Atopic dermatitis: quantifying the itching thanks to a sensor

Ouch, it itches and you itch more or less frantically. Yes, but how does it scratch, asks the doctor? A little, a lot, too much? Not always easy to assess the intensity of the itching, pruritus as specialists say, especially in young children who cannot verbalize their discomfort. No doubt it will be easier in the future with this portable sensor placed on the patient’s hand. No, this is not a science fiction scenario but a very real device. The proof in pictures with a publication in the journal Science Advances

Tested with children with atopic dermatitis

An American team from Northwestern University (United States) has just published original work showing that a flexible, portable sensor placed on the back of the hand makes it possible to objectively measure scratching activity. The researchers first tested their sensor on healthy adults who they asked to scratch on purpose, then on around ten children with atopic dermatitis, a frequent and painful dermatological condition that is the source of intense itching. , which also sometimes lasts into adulthood.

Hand movements, independent of an itch, are not taken into account

On a practical level, the sensor called ADAM (for ADvanced Acousto-Mechanic), transparent and glued to the skin and positioned on the back of the hand, allows wireless technology to capture so-called acoustic-mechanical signals associated with scratching via a combination of motion signals. It has been paired with machine learning algorithms that specifically identify error-free scratching and eliminate shaking hand movements that would be independent of an itch. According to the publication, ADAM is also more precise than the Applewatch type wristwatch for detecting hand movements. Connected to a built-in rechargeable battery, it can work 7 days continuously. The authors are already planning to use their device to objectively assess the effectiveness of drugs.

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