A low-cost screening blood-pressure (BP) bracelet that alerts expecting mothers if their blood pressure starts rising.
What is it?
A MomBand is a low-cost screening blood-pressure (BP) bracelet that alerts expecting mothers if their blood pressure starts rising. High blood pressure during pregnancy may be indicative of pre-eclampsia, a precursor for eclampsia, a serious condition responsible for over 75,000 maternal deaths worldwide. Despite its severity, eclampsia can be medically managed if caught early enough. The MomBand bracelet uses a color-coded system to display its results, activating a green light if the BP reading is acceptable (120/80), an amber light if it is borderline, and a red light for high BP (above 140/90). The band provides expecting mothers with the necessary information to make a decision about when to seek medical attention. This early warning system is especially important in locations where regular antenatal monitor is not readily available.
MomBand was designed with input from pregnant mothers and public health officials in Uganda and Pakistan and is appropriate for these and similar cultural and socio-economic contexts. Unlike existing blood pressure cuffs, a MomBand is cheap (around $6/unit), easily portable, easily interpretable by even the illiterate women, less sophisticated and expensive than a standard phone, and can be powered for daily use for the high-risk duration of the pregnancy by no more than two watch or AAA batteries.
How is it used?
The pregnant women can wear the MomBand continuously on her wrist. Alternatively, she can put it on every day, about an hour after waking up. Per instructions drawn on the cuff, the pregnant women should sit down raise her wrist to heart-level, and push a small button to activate the device. After the cuff has taken her BP reading, it displays its results:
• If a green light is on, the mother can continue with her day.
• If the amber light is on, she can continue with her day but should check her blood pressure every three to four hours.
• If the red light is on, the mother should continue to monitor her BP every three to four hours, she should seek medical attention for her blood pressure.
• If all three lights are on, the MomBand was unable to take an accurate reading, and the user should try again after turning the band on and off.
What technologies does it incorporate?
A pressure sensor to measure blood pressure.
How does it work?
The user wears the MomBand on her wrist and activates it by pressing a small button. A small pump inflates the MomBand, cutting off blood flow to the arm. A small valve then starts deflating the cuff, allowing blood flow. As blood starts flowing, the cuff registers the points at which the pulse starts (systolic reading) and stops (diastolic reading). The cuff takes these measurements and sends them to a circuit board.
The circuit board interprets these results and shines the corresponding light: If the reading is above 140/90, the circuit board activates the red LED; if the reading is between 120/80 and 140/90, the amber light shines; and for readings below 120/80, the green light shines.
Who uses it?
Expecting mothers use this device to monitor their own blood pressure before 20 weeks of gestation, especially those who are at a higher risk of developing pre-eclampsia; however, with a little re-programming, the device can also be given to those suffering from high blood pressure.
Surprisingly, interviews with doctors in Uganda and Pakistan have revealed that, when dealing with pregnant mothers, specific data collection of blood pressure is unnecessary: first, doctors are interested more in the number of days that the mother has been experiencing high blood pressure (as defined as anything above 140/90) rather than actual blood pressure readings; furthermore, while collecting data would certainly be valuable, the increased costs associated with creating the necessary instrument (a more sophisticated circuit board, a data analysis tool for the doctors, and an interfacing mechanism between the analysis tool at the MomBand) would unnecessarily increase the product’s price.
Why does it help?
Previous efforts to give mothers BP monitors have been unsuccessful as many mothers are illiterate and unable to read and interpret the results. MomBand addresses this problem by informing mothers that their condition warrants immediate medical attention, overcoming both ignorance and reluctance and providing them with ease-of-mind as they manage their pregnancy. By using a color-coded system, MomBand leaves little room for human error and is designed for mothers at all literacy levels.
Furthermore, interviews with women in Pakistan and Uganda have revealed that unskilled birth attendants, older women, and religious figures can often provide wrong (and again, well-meaning) advice to expecting mothers about their pregnancies. In Pakistan, for example, pregnant women are told that balancing the humours in their body by eating hot or cold foods guarantees the health of their fetus. However, public awareness campaigns in both countries often work with these local caregivers to change the wider community’s behavior, introduce new medicine, and spread information. MomBands believes that partnerships with such caregivers will increase the community’s trust in the product. These caregivers can on basic repairs and can serve as the primary point of contact for the expecting mothers in their community.
Of course, a MomBand is useless if the mother is unable to use the information to seek quality medical attention due to distance or non availability of medical care. We have therefore planned to distribute MomBands through ante-natal clinics in the hospitals, clinics, and OB/GYNs so we can effectively identify and work with the most appropriate populations. We have already received interest from a NIH-funded project in Zambia and a hospital in eastern Uganda.
These pages have been pulled directly from applications submitted to the Wearables for Good Challenge in 2015. They represent the work of the individual teams and have subsequently not been edited.