A new study suggests wristband biosensors may be useful in tracking relapses in people in recovery from opioid addiction. The biosensors track how the body reacts to opioids.
The study included 30 patients in a hospital emergency room, who were given intravenous opioid painkillers for acute pain. Each patient received a wristband biosensor, which measured the body’s response to the drugs. Some participants used opioids daily, while others rarely or never used the drugs.
Researchers were able to use the biosensors to identify when an opioid was injected into a patient, by detecting less body movement and an increase in skin temperature, Medical Daily reports. People who used opioids daily had fewer changes in movement, compared to people who rarely or never used opioids.
This information could be used by doctors to track patients’ tolerance to painkillers, which could help prevent them from becoming addicted when they are being treated for chronic or acute pain, according to researcher Stephanie Carreiro of the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
“The patterns may be useful to detect episodes of opioid use in real time,” she said in a press release. She noted biosensors could be used to alert doctors or family members when a person is relapsing.
“Opioid analgesic use is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the U.S., yet effective treatment programs have a limited ability to detect relapse,” the researchers wrote in the Journal of Medical Toxicology. “Wearable biosensors have the potential to improve detection of relapse by providing objective, real-time physiologic data on opioid use that can be used by treating clinicians to augment behavioral interventions.”
Carreiro noted more work is needed before wearable biosensors can become part of treatment programs.