Respiratory effort belt measurement is a widely used method to monitor respiration. Signal waveforms of respiratory volume and flow may indicate pathological signs of several diseases and, thus, it would be highly desirable to predict them accurately. Calibrated effort belts are sufficiently accurate for estimating respiratory rate, but the respiratory volume and flow prediction accuracies degrade considerably with changes in the subject’s body position and breathing style.
An improved calibration method of respiratory effort belts is presented in this paper. It is based on an optimally trained FIR (Finite Impulse Response) filter bank constructed as a MISO system (Multiple-Input Single-Output) between respiratory effort belt signals and the spirometer in order to reduce waveform errors. Ten healthy adult volunteers were recruited. Breathing was varied between the following styles: metronome-guided controlled breathing rate of 0.1 Hz, 0.15 Hz, 0.25 Hz and 0.33 Hz, and a free rate that was felt normal by each subject. Body position was varied between supine, sitting and standing. The proposed calibration method was tested against these variations and compared with the state-of-the-art methods from the literature.
Relative waveform error decreased 60-70% when predicting airflow under changing breathing styles. The coefficient of determination R2 varied between 0.88-0.95 and 0.65-0.79 with the proposed and the standard method, respectively. Standard deviation of respiratory volume error decreased even 80%. The proposed method outperformed other methods.
Results show that not only the respiratory volume can be computed more precisely from the predicted airflow, but also the flow waveforms are very accurate with the proposed method. The method is robust to breathing style changes and body position changes improving greatly the accuracy of the calibration of respiratory effort belts over the standard method. The enhanced accuracy of the belt calibration offers interesting opportunities, e.g. in pulmonary and critical care medicine when objective measurements are required.