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How Much Does It Itch?

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Two ADAM sensors measuring scratching and sleep quality in a child with eczema.

Northwestern University scientists have developed a soft, wearable sensor that quantifies itch by measuring scratching when placed on the hand.

Credit: Jan-Kai Chang

A soft, wearable sensor developed by Northwestern University scientists can measure the itchiness suffered by children with atopic dermatitis (eczema), as well as by adults with liver disease, kidney disease, and certain cancers who suffer similar symptoms.

The sensor quantifies itch by measuring scratching when placed on the hand, including finger-, wrist-, and elbow motion-related scratching.

Incorporated into the device are machine learning algorithms that identify scratching without misidentifying similar motion-related movement.

The sensor gauges both low-frequency motion and high-frequency vibrations from the hand to provide superior accuracy compared to wrist-watch tools.

Said Northwestern’s Shuai Xu, “Patients with atopic dermatitis are 44% more likely to report suicidal thoughts as a result of the itch compared to controls. Thus, the ability to quantify their symptoms is really important to help new drugs get approved, but also support their day-to-day lives.”

From Northwestern Now
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Abstracts Copyright © 2021 SmithBucklin, Washington, DC, USA


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