Smart bed sensors could stop pressure sores. (Credit: University of South Australia)

Scientists have designed tiny smart bed sensors embedded in hospital mattresses could put an end to painful and potentially life-threatening pressure sores, thanks to new technology. The minute optical fiber sensors can be attached to the upper surface of a mattress to monitor movement and record heart and respiratory rates.

The unobtrusive sensors can detect when a hospital patient turns over, leaves a bed, or just remains motionless, picking up their breathing. Nurses can therefore be remotely alerted if a patient has not moved within a couple of hours, prompting them to adjust the patient’s position.

Unlike the sensors that many people wear on their wrists to monitor physical activity and physiological signs, the optical fiber sensors are embedded in the same space as a person, but not on them physically. The optical fiber sensors are sensitive enough to record heart and respiration rates and can detect whether a person is in the bed, even if they remain stationary for long periods.

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