New wearable tracks opioid use

Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester are developing wearables to better understand how opioid addiction happens and to more carefully prescribe opioids to patients, according to a Boston Herald report.

The wearable device is a bracelet that records the user's vitals, including skin temperature and heart rate. Changes in these vital signs could signify early signs of drug dependence, according to the report.

"One of the problems is the events that lead to addiction and overdoses happen outside the walls of the hospital when we can't reach patients," Stephanie Carreiro, MD, a lead researcher on the project, told the Boston Herald. "By being able to extend our monitoring capabilities, we have the opportunity to really figure out what's going on outside the hospital and intervene at a time when it's really needed."

In a study published earlier this summer in Journal of Medical Toxicology, Dr. Carreiro's research team found the wearables detected increase in skin temperature and a significant decrease in movement after users were administered opioids. The study concluded that wearables showed consistent physiological patterns and differences between heavy and non-heavy opioid users, and potential uses for biosensors in drug addiction treatment and pain management should be further studied.

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