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A patient under observation at home with the pilot version of the vision system.

NREC and Columbia University researchers investigated whether computer vision could be used to monitor patients in clinical trials for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) therapies.

SMA is a degenerative neuromuscular disease that strikes in infancy and causes muscle atrophy, breathing difficulties, and even death.  Although it is not curable, drug therapies can reduce its symptoms.  However, the high cost of observing patients in clinical trials makes it difficult to get FDA approval for new therapies. 

A pilot study compared respiration and limb movement data gathered by a computer vision system with data recorded by body sensors and clinical observation. The results from computer vision monitoring correlated well with body sensor and clinical observations.  This shows that computer vision is a viable option for observing patients, which can reduce the cost of clinical trials for drug therapies and speed up their approval by the FDA.

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