Not everybody gets a second chance in life. But thanks to the Washington researchers, drug addicts suffering from an overdose of opioid may get access to a rare remedy soon – Second Chance, a mobile application detects the overdose and helps receive timely treatment.

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that at least 130 people in the U.S. die from an overdose of opioid. Of the 72000 drug overdose deaths, 2/3 were due to opioid overdose in 2017 and the number increases in 2018. Several measures have been implemented to combat the pressing issue including cutting back on the drug’s prescriptions, increasing the access to treatment of tis addictions and the vast distribution of the antidote naloxone or Narcan, however all these have had little effect so far.

These deaths can mostly be prevented if Narcan the antidote is provided in time, the problem however is that those having an overdose are in such condition that they become unable to call for assistance.

Opioids especially fentanyl when taken in high doses causes a quick breath termination, failure to respirate following death and also has a physiologic consequence by which addicts usually surrender by an unintentional overdose if the drug. A timely detection and intervention can prevent most deaths. By administering naloxone at the right time, it restores the breath quickly for anyone who’s respiration is slow due to an opioid overdosage.

Helping Overdose with Smartphone Apps

The researchers at University of Washington have developed a new smartphone application by the name of Second Chance. This app uses sonar to monitor the patterns of breathing. It can also detect when an overdose of the subject drug has occurred. By doing so it  immediately notifies the emergency services.

The developers of the app are trying to apply for approval from the U.S. food and drug administration. The researchers hope to publicize the mobile app as a potential lifesaving tool.

The app’s performance is also under test. In certain conditions which mimics an overdose using anaesthesia where a users breath stops for a long time period. Around 20 people participated in the experiment. Standard anaesthetic medicines helped in creating simulations such as inability to breathe or shortness of breath for 30 seconds. The mobile application was able to detect the abnormal breathing pattern in 19 out of the 20 patients.
A person during an overdose either slows down or stops his breath altogether.

Second Chance monitors one’s breathing pattern by transmitting a high frequency inaudible sound wave from the mobile phone to the person’s chest and monitors the way it is returned back to the phone. If the app has detected a reduced or no breath, it immediately sends an alarm. The alarm prompts the user to interact with it. If the person fails to do so, the app will contact a trusted friend/family. An emergency service in case former is unreachable. This allows timely access provision of naloxone.

With Second Chance, tech has made another breakthrough in the medical sciences. Hopefully, it will be a potential life saver for many!

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