Research and Development
Swallowing function analysis and diagnostic systems without x-ray exposure
Pneumonia is the 3rd cause of death in Japan following cancer and heart disease in 2011. The ratio increases with age. *1 More than 70% of elderly people with pneumonia are inflicted by swallowing wrong substances into the trachea, which causes bacteria to go into the lungs. *2 As one ages, the swallowing capability weakens, which necessitates the check up of this capability to prevent the weakening. However, conventional methods of palatable exams, VF and VE do not provide quantitative results and are unable to keep track of the swallowing capability.
Thus, we are carrying out the development of a system which provides quantitative results of swallowing capability. The system uses a laser (visible light) and a laser beam splitter to illuminate the throat of the patient with 2500 (50×50) IR beams. A camera with a solid state sensor collects the positions of the beams to determine the swallowing capability quantitatively. Since the system does not use x-ray, it can be used for screening and follow up examinations for rehabilitation. We will endeavor to materialize a system which produces the qualitative results automatically.
*1: Statistics by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) in 2013.
*2: Japan respiratory medical society.
* New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) chose our proposal, the development of swallowing function analysis diagnostic systems without x-ray exposure as one of 2014 innovation commercialization support projects.