E-Textiles for Healthy Ageing
2. Healthy Ageing
2.1. Avoiding Disease and Disability
- Cardiovascular diseases (e.g., hypertension, atrial fibrillation, coronary heart disease, heart failure and stroke)
- Neuropsychiatric conditions (e.g., dementia, depression, epilepsy, mental health)
- Respiratory (e.g., asthma, chronic obstructive, pulmonary disease)
- Endocrine (e.g., diabetes, hypothyroidism)
- Chronic kidney disease (stage 3 to 5)
- Cancer in the previous 5 year (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer)
- Additional common conditions (e.g., anaemia, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis)
- Additional syndromes (e.g., falls, fragility issues, incontinence, skin ulcers/pressure sores)
2.2. High Cognitive and Physical Function
- Episodic memory
- Cognitive processing speed
- Executive functions
- Grip strength
- Gait speed
- Standing balance test etc.
2.3. Engagement with Life
2.4. Lay Perspectives
2.5. Interventions and Technologies to Support Healthy Ageing
3. Wearable Devices in General and the Need for E-Textiles
3.1. Wearable Technologies
3.2. Current and Future Applications of Devices to Support Healthy Ageing
3.2.1. Non-Physical Challenges Associated with Healthy Ageing
3.2.2. Physical Health and Functional Ability Related Challenges Associated with Healthy Ageing
3.3. Wearable Technology: The Motivation for E-Textiles
- Textile/clothing-based solutions provide a comfortable and familiar platform to users.
- E-textiles would enable unobtrusive and ubiquitous deployment sensors and actuators in clothing and furnishings.
- The integration in clothing will improve compliance (users might forget to use the conventional technology, but they always remember to get dressed).
- The unobtrusive nature of the technology will avoid any perceived stigma associated with wearing devices.
- Multiple sensors can be incorporated into a single platform (e.g., item of clothing) rather than requiring users to wear a number of separate devices.
- Information or alerts can be provided through the textile providing real time feedback to the user in a single platform.
- Textiles are the most common material that people interact with through, for example, clothing, soft toys, home furnishings and bed linen, and therefore providing an attractive platform for a range of applications.
- Ease of use and increased compliance can provide more data to better inform preventative interventions .
4. E-Textile Technologies for Assisting Healthy Ageing
4.1. Inertial Sensors (e.g., Accelerometers)
4.2. Fabric Electrodes
4.3. Textile Pulse Oximetry
4.4. Strain Gauges
4.5. Temperature Sensors (e.g., Thermistor-Change in Resistance with Temperature)
4.6. Moisture Sensors
4.7. Textile Pressure Sensors
4.8. Fabric-Based Glucose Sensors
4.10. Fabric Speakers
4.11. Breathing Sensors
4.12. Integrated Location Sensors
4.13. Antibacterial Textiles
4.14. Textiles for Releasing Drugs
4.15. Heated Fabrics
- Materials and their performance in textiles—There have been a wide range of functional materials been used in healthcare care applications including fabric-based dry electrodes for monitoring, diagnosis and treatment; flexible stretchable resistive and piezoelectric materials for sensors; electroactive polymer for actuators (e.g., artificial muscles); carbon nanotube-based filament and dielectric coated conductive yarns for conductors and heaters; light emitting polymers for therapies. These materials must survive the rigours of use in the relevant application scenarios. Existing e-textiles are typically unsatisfactory in terms of reliability during use and durability (e.g., bending, stretching, washing). Biocompatibility (e.g., cytotoxicity, irritation, sensitisation) is also an essential requirement to ensure user safety and comfort is another issue.
- Discrete sensor/device integration in textiles—Electronics (e.g., inertial sensors, pulse oximetry, temperature, circuit) and textile integration has progressed in three generations . First generation e-textiles attached conventional rigid electronics to textiles i.e., the textiles acted only as a platform for the electronics (e.g., Philip-Levi ICD jacket ). Second generation e-textiles embedded functional devices such as switches and sensors into the textile . Third generation e-textiles integrate flexible electronic functionality, including circuits , at the yarn level in e-yarns with significantly reduced size thus allowing the potential for electronics to be unobtrusive and effectively hidden within the textile. However, challenges remain on e-yarn length, reliable interconnections, and component sizes and flexibility limit integration.
- Manufacturing—The widespread manufacturing of e-textiles has been limited by the diverse range of techniques required to produce a set of functions in an e-textile. Ideally the e-textiles manufacturing process should be compatible with existing equipment (e.g., spinning, knitting, weaving, printing, coating, dyeing, finishing) already in use for conventional textile manufacturing to enable mass production. This is not straightforward and the specific challenges will depend on the electronics functionality and manufacturing process. For example, printing functional materials requires a much higher quality print than would be the case for patterning a fabric since any errors will result in failure.
- Regulatory—Compliance with medical device regulations is necessary for medical devices in order to demonstrate the safety and clinical effectiveness. This has set an entry barrier and lengthened the time required to take medical devices to market. The change in the EU medical device regulation with the Medical Device Regulation (MDR) replacing the Medical Device Directive (MDD), with full effect from May 2020, will make the entry barrier even higher. Clinical evaluation (e.g., randomized controlled trials) are needed for new emerging products.
- End users need validation—The majority of scientific research has been carried out in the lab with little or no input from end users. This leads to a disconnection between the technology and the end user requirements which delays uptake and the development of new products. Involvement of the end user and other key stakeholders (e.g., clinicians, regulators) from the outset of the project is essential to ensure the research effectively addresses the users’ need and smooths the transfer from lab research to adoption in the market.
Conflicts of Interest
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Yang, K.; Isaia, B.; Brown, L.J.E.; Beeby, S. E-Textiles for Healthy Ageing. Sensors 2019, 19, 4463. https://doi.org/10.3390/s19204463
Yang K, Isaia B, Brown LJE, Beeby S. E-Textiles for Healthy Ageing. Sensors. 2019; 19(20):4463. https://doi.org/10.3390/s19204463Chicago/Turabian Style
Yang, Kai, Beckie Isaia, Laura J.E. Brown, and Steve Beeby. 2019. "E-Textiles for Healthy Ageing" Sensors 19, no. 20: 4463. https://doi.org/10.3390/s19204463