Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) is a major health problem and occurs in individuals of all ages, women and men, ethnicities and socioeconomic positions. The incidence of OHCA is approximately 17.000 per year in the Netherlands. All currently available systems to rescue OHCA victims depend on witnesses who act as the first step in the Chain of Survival by alerting dispatch centres and/or performing resuscitation and defibrillation with an automated external defibrillator (AED). At present, however, more than half of OHCA cases is unwitnessed and these victims have virtually no chance of survival.
Technology to detect OHCA, that can be worn permanently and that automatically alerts dispatch centres could save the lives of many unwitnessed OHCA victims and improve quality of life. This technology is therefore urgently needed. Moreover, the technology might also improve outcomes in witnessed OHCA situations as the chain of rescue is initiated earlier.
Our project targets the development of a wearable monitoring platform that enables automatic detection of OHCA and alerting of bystanders and dispatch centres. Key requirements of our proposed platform are 1) that it enables 24/7 monitoring of OHCA in a wide and diverse population; and 2) that it has high accuracy in the detection of OHCA.
A key enabler of the first requirement is that our solution is unobtrusive, not only from the physical point of view but also from the psychological point of view. To achieve this level of unobtrusiveness, our platform will build on an existing remote patient monitoring platform in the shape of a wrist-worn device (smartwatch) that measures motion and pulsatile blood flow via accelerometry and photoplethysmography (PPG) sensors, respectively. As key enabler for the second requirement, cessation of the pulsatile blood flow in the wrist, which happens in case of OHCA, will be detected from the PPG. Additionally, lack of movement, which happens because OHCA victims lose consciousness immediately, will be detected from the accelerometers. By combining the absence of pulsatile blood flow with absence of movement and a failure to respond to stimuli, our solution aims to yield the required high accuracy in detection of OHCA and will trigger early alarms to emergency responders, for the first time providing reliable technological means to save lives of victims of unwitnessed cardiac arrest.
This project is a collaboration between various academic and industrial partners in the Netherlands. The main contribution of this PhD position will be the development of signal processing methods that can detect the occurrence of OHCA based on data from accelerometry and PPG. To this end, the candidate will work closely together with partners that provide the measurement platform (Philips) and partners that will validate the technology in clinical practice (Catharina Hospital Eindhoven, Amsterdam UMC).
Besides research you will also contribute to education within the department. Apart from supervising BSc and MSc students in their research projects, other assistance in education, e.g. in bachelor courses, is usually limited to around 5-10% of your contract time.
- A master’s degree (or an equivalent university degree) in Electrical Engineering.
- A research oriented attitude.
- A strong affinity with (patho)physiology, signal processing, and artificial intelligence.
- Ability to work in a multidisciplinary team and motivated to collaborate with the clinical and industrial partners.
- Capability to coordinate your own research and interact with various disciplines and levels of expertise.
- Fluent in spoken and written English.
Conditions of employment
A PhD position in a vibrant and dynamic high-tech environment. You can perform research on a highly relevant topic that can influence the quality of life for many patients, with the potential to see and help your research results get implemented in clinical practice. Furthermore, we offer
- A meaningful job in a dynamic and ambitious university with the possibility to present your work at international conferences.
- A full-time employment for four years, with an intermediate evaluation after one year.
- To support you during your PhD and to prepare you for the rest of your career, you will have free access to a personal development program for PhD students (PROOF program).
- A gross monthly salary and benefits (such as a pension scheme, pregnancy and maternity leave, partially paid parental leave) in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement for Dutch Universities.
- Additionally, an annual holiday allowance of 8% of the yearly salary, plus a year-end allowance of 8.3% of the annual salary.
- Should you come from abroad and comply with certain conditions, you can make use of the so-called ‘30% facility’, which permits you not to pay tax on 30% of your salary.
- A broad package of fringe benefits, including an excellent technical infrastructure, moving expenses, and savings schemes.
- Family-friendly initiatives are in place, such as an international spouse program, and excellent on-campus children day care and sports facilities.