Smart wearable technology developed by researchers from several institutes in Germany, could soon help to treat vertigo using special headphone-based Equivert biofeedback system
The system is designed to treat symptoms regarding issues off vestibular organ in inner ear, which is used to help people in maintaining balance. Around ten millions of people in the U.S suffer from vertigo, the sensation of whirling and associated loss of balance. Vertigo is caused due to infection of inner ear or diseases of the ear such as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), vestibular neuritis, and Meniere’s disease. It can also occur as a result of calcium build up in canals of inner ear, causing dizziness, which can lasts from 20 seconds to one minute.
Burkhard Heidemann, group manager and Equivert expert at the Fraunhofer IMS explained that the headphones verbally guide users through a series of exercises, designed to make sure they maintain the equilibrium position to balance their body. The headphones features built-in accelerometer and rotational sensors, which records when user is leaning instead of standing straight and can alert user for the same. “The patient receives instructions straight from the headphones,” said Heidemann. “This happens via acoustic signals. When the patient fluctuates too far to the right, the sound seems to come from the right, similar to a parking. The system controls how well the patient has been able to perform the exercises and, if necessary, switches to the next difficult stage.
Although no clinical trials are carried out using the headphones, these are planned for the near future. However, Heidemann said that medical approval is just months away. In August 2017, the product will be avaible in markets. The device is priced at US$ 1,600 for medical practices and around half that for individual patients. The team is planning an Indiegogo campaign to offer them to early adopters.