Personalised training for respiratory muscles

19.05.2020 The Institute for Human Centered Engineering HuCE at Bern University of Applied Sciences – together with ETH Zurich, the University of Zurich and other partners – has produced the concept for a latest-generation respiratory training device for Idiag AG. The cooperation between various experts has enabled a personalised, all-in-one respiratory muscle trainer to be successfully launched on the market.

Humans perform around 20,000 breathing cycles a day when at rest. The respiratory muscles can become fatigued due to this daily exertion, strenuous activities or illnesses. Targeted training of the respiratory muscles, however, helps prevent such fatigue. To strengthen the respiratory musculature, improve health and enhance sports performance, the Institute for Human Centered Engineering HuCE at Bern University of Applied Sciences BFH – in conjunction with ETH Zurich, the University of Zurich UZH and other partners – laid the foundation for the development of the Idiag P100, a latest-generation training device.

Success thanks to wide-ranging expertise

Together with its partners, the BFH team, led by Prof. Dr Volker Koch, developed the device’s operating model. This involved creating a system concept, defining requirements, developing a mechanical design, electronics and software, selecting and integrating suitable sensors and developing effective CO2 regulation.

At BFH alone, numerous lecturers, assistants and research associates were involved in the project. Several student theses also addressed project-specific challenges. “This was an extremely exciting project, given the wide range of specialist fields involved and the various experts’ differing approaches and mindsets,” Volker Koch explained. All the efforts ultimately paid off. “The product was successfully launched on the market by Idiag AG and has now actually been nominated for the FIBO INNOVATION & TREND AWARD 2020, which is presented at the world’s largest trade fair for fitness, wellness and health,” a delighted Volker Koch revealed. In light of the fruitful collaboration, a further research and development project between Idiag AG and ETH Zurich is now being planned.

Personalised, all-in-one device

A unique feature of the new respiratory muscle trainer is that it combines strength, endurance and interval training in one device. The various monitored training modes can be selected via touchscreen. The training schedule can be automatically personalised for users by undertaking a simple initial test on the respiratory musculature. This means the respiratory training device can optimise the physical performance of people with different fitness levels. The device measures the airflow, pressure and carbon dioxide content of the exhaled air. Two highly sensitive valves mix fresh air and expired air in an optimal ratio. This eliminates any risk of hyperventilation, hypoventilation and light-headedness.

Respiratory training and coronavirus

In severe cases of COVID-19 infection, patients suffer breathing difficulty which the respiratory musculature tries to compensate for. If the infection in the lungs is too far advanced, the patient suffers respiratory failure and requires artificial respiration. Studies have shown that the duration of artificial respiration can be shortened through respiratory training. This means that respiratory training reduces the risk of potential complications after artificial respiration and can shorten the duration of a hospital stay.


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