A skin-conformable wireless sensor to objectively quantify symptoms of pruritus

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Science Advances  30 Apr 2021:
Vol. 7, no. 18, eabf9405
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abf9405


Itch is a common clinical symptom and major driver of disease-related morbidity across a wide range of medical conditions. A substantial unmet need is for objective, accurate measurements of itch. In this article, we present a noninvasive technology to objectively quantify scratching behavior via a soft, flexible, and wireless sensor that captures the acousto-mechanic signatures of scratching from the dorsum of the hand. A machine learning algorithm validated on data collected from healthy subjects (n = 10) indicates excellent performance relative to smartwatch-based approaches. Clinical validation in a cohort of predominately pediatric patients (n = 11) with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis included 46 sleep-nights totaling 378.4 hours. The data indicate an accuracy of 99.0% (84.3% sensitivity, 99.3% specificity) against visual observation. This work suggests broad capabilities relevant to applications ranging from assessing the efficacy of drugs for conditions that cause itch to monitoring disease severity and treatment response.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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