STTR Phase I: Development of an Objective Tremor Detection System to Improve Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Outcomes

Period of Performance: 07/01/2015 - 06/30/2016


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Cambrian Design and Development
318 N Main Street
Blacksburg, VA 24060
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Research Institution

Virginia Polytechnic Institute
Sponsored Programs 0170
Blacksburg, VA 24061
Institution POC


The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I project will be to provide quantitative, actionable data that enables safer, more effective treatment of infants with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. The medical community is frustrated with the decades-old subjective assessment tools at their disposal. Technology has progressed to a point where an objective alternative is now possible. While many medical technologies reduce physician-patient involvement, this approach will increase the quality of physician interactions, improve patient outcome, and save an estimated $15,000 per patient by reducing length of stay for those patients by as much as 50%. This estimated healthcare savings in the United States alone is $402 million annually. While this technology is focused on Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, the physical tremors being investigated are similar in nature to those associated with other neurological disorders. A successful outcome of this project will enable future research to improve the outcomes for patients suffering from other neurological disorders such as ALS, Cerebral Palsy, and Parkinson?s. Success with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome is sufficient to provide sustainable commercial success after product launch. The proposed project uses miniature wireless sensors to detect, differentiate, and quantify physiological tremors caused by withdrawal in infants suffering from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. A successful outcome will be a measurement system to replace key indicators of the subjective Finnegan Scoring System with objective data. The project objectives are to design the sensors, optimize placement and number of sensors, and design signal processing algorithms to allow discrimination between general infant movements and NAS tremors as measured on patient limbs and/or torso. Tremor measurements will be correlated to traditional Finnegan Scoring assessments as part of the validation process. The Virginia Department of Health reported that in 2012, 394 cases of NAS were found, representing approximately 15% of all opiate addictions. The cost of treating these cases was $16.6MM, or approximately $42k per case, driven primarily by the average length of stay of 10 days, five to six days less than the national average for similar patient populations. Two additional, independent data sources estimate a total available US market for treatment to be $805MM. Feedback from more than 100 doctors and nurses indicates this approach can reduce length of stay as by as much as 50%, saving an estimated $300MM.