A group of researchers at the Stanford School of Medicine have recently tested wearable sensors, which can tell you that you’re sick before you even have symptoms. 

Their study focused on 60 participants, and they found that by taking baseline measurements of a person when they are healthy, they are able to use the trackers to monitor deviations and potential problems with the body.

Michael Snyder, PhD, a geneticist and one of the lead authors of the study, experimented with the sensors himself.

During a flight after a vacation to Norway, he was able to diagnose himself with Lyme disease when he noticed a change in his oxygen levels, an elevated heart rate and a low-grade fever. It turns out, after a visit to the doctor, he was correct.

“The fact that you can pick up infections by monitoring before they happen is very provocative,” stated Eric Topol, MD, professor of genomics at the Scripps Research Institute, who was not involved in the study.

During the research, the scientists found that several of the wearable devices were actually not effective and one has been recalled since they started their scientific enquiries. But that doesn’t mean that some of the devices won’t be extremely helpful to the medical field.

Scientists and doctors, however, warn that these wearable devices may not be appropriate for the population at large as of now, as they could lead to needless worry and self-diagnosis by those who are not trained to understand deviations or read the device properly.

Dr. Atul Butte of the University of California, San Francisco, who did not take part in the study, stated:

“This kind of approach is going to help science more than the general public. Remember, the baseline is always in motion. We’re always getting older. We’re always exposed to things. Just because there’s a deviation doesn’t mean it’s abnormal.”

At the moment, the devices are still extremely experimental, but do offer promise in the advancement of medical technology. One day, they may be able to help doctors diagnose illnesses at the earliest onset of symptoms or warn them of deviations in patients who face chronic and life threatening conditions.

It is also possible that these devices will one day be available to the general public, but at the moment, scientists are perfecting and tweaking them until they are just right.


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