A pilot study of the nocturnal respiration rates in COPD patients in the home environment using a non-contact biomotion sensor

Tarig Ballal*, Conor Heneghan, Alberto Zaffaroni, Patricia Boyle, Philip De Chazal, Redmond Shouldice, Walter T. McNicholas, Seamas C. Donnelly

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Nocturnal respiration rate parameters were collected from 20 COPD subjects over an 8 week period, to determine if changes in respiration rate were associated with exacerbations of COPD. These subjects were primarily GOLD Class 2 to 4, and had been recently discharged from hospital following a recent exacerbation. The respiration rates were collected using a non-contact radio-frequency biomotion sensor which senses respiratory effort and body movement using a short-range radio-frequency sensor. An adaptive notch filter was applied to the measured signal to determine respiratory rate over rolling 15 s segments. The accuracy of the algorithm was initially verified using ten manually-scored 15 min segments of respiration extracted from overnight polysomnograms. The calculated respiration rates were within 1 breath min-1 for >98% of the estimates. For the 20 subjects monitored, 11 experienced one or more subsequent exacerbation of COPD (ECOPD) events during the 8 week monitoring period (19 events total). Analysis of the data revealed a significant increase in nocturnal respiration rate (e.g. >2 breath min-1) prior to many ECOPD events. Using a simple classifier of a change of 1 breath min-1 in the mode of the nocturnal respiration rate, a predictive rule showed a sensitivity of 63% and specificity of 85% for predicting an exacerbation within a 5 d window. We conclude that it is possible to collect respiration rates reliably in the home environment, and that the respiration rate may be a potential indicator of change in clinical status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2513-2527
Number of pages15
JournalPhysiological Measurement
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine.


  • COPD
  • radio-frequency sensor
  • respiration rate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Physiology
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Physiology (medical)


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