by Leah Nicholson
At a time when stress is on the rise, engineers from the Institute of Swedish Technology have figured out a method to test an individual’s stress levels using a new sensory chip. The chip, which may be placed on the individual in the form of a patch, would monitor the levels of cortisol in the person’s sweat, keeping the data for health professionals and the user to review.
This would allow specialists to review stress levels through a more objective method than either visual or verbal tests, a significant bonus for mental health professionals. Cortisol, the substance the chip measures, is what regulates a person’s blood pressure, metabolism, and blood sugar; it is normally circulated throughout the body rhythmically, but for those who suffer from severe anxiety and other stress-related problems, cortisol levels are inconsistent and disruptive. The chip’s ability to monitor cortisol levels will allow it to provide concrete data to doctors and other specialists, giving it the potential to become a particularly helpful assistant in medical and mental health fields.
The chip has already been tested in labs, with the next step testing in an actual hospital setting. Engineers are working with the Lausanne University Hospital in hopes of using the chip on volunteer patients with Cushing’s syndrome and Addington’s disease, which overwhelm and deprive the body of cortisol, respectively. In the future, such a device could be a part of testing in various countries, playing a role in anxiety treatments and creating an awareness for the need of stress reduction. Whether this method will be controversial or accepted is up for debate, but one thing is certain: wherever new medical technology is involved, it’s sure to capture people’s attention.