The goal of this project is to develop a sensor system for fecal- incontinent patients to alert the individual, or send a signal to their health-care attendants, of a bowel movement and that attention is required. The objective is to ultimately produce a small portable battery- operated optical sensing system that can be worn by the incontinent patient. The system will employ a disposable fiber optic sensor placed in an individual's undergarment, which will act like a """"""""sniffer"""""""" and respond to gas associated with defecation. To confirm feasibility, Phase I of this project will involve analyses of fresh fecal samples from convalescent center patients using the fiber- based sensor technique. Studies will be conducted to characterize the variation in the amount and rate of liberation of the indicator gas specie. Means of improving the sensor system will also be researched, especially the design of the detector instrument, for this specific application. The Phase I work will provide key information regarding parameters critical to the design and implementation of the monitoring system for patient application. This will enable prototype systems to be developed in Phase IiI. The objective is to conduct trials in Phase II with sensor systems worn by patients.
This monitoring system will be used by fecal incontinent patients, and by health-care facilities having incontinent patients requiring assisted care. It will allow improved care and management of those incontinent and reduce health-care delivery costs. There are additional applications for this gas sensing technique in other biomedical applications and in general industry.