Pilot Hypoxia

The Need

Fighter pilots must be able to make quick decisions, while being subjected to the high g-forces and extreme stresses of combat aviation. Proper oxygenation is critical to maintaining pilot awareness. Undetected malfunctioning of the on-board oxygen supply can lead to loss of brain oxygenation (hypoxia), loss of consciousness, and even death at altitudes over 30,000 ft. The established methods for measuring the oxygen supply to the brain, including the commercially available pulse oximeters, are unreliable for monitoring fighter pilots.

RMD’s Solution

RMD is developing a real-time hypoxia monitor that combines near infrared blood oxygenation measurements with diffuse correlation spectroscopy to directly measure blood flow. The hybrid instrument attaches like a band-aid to the pilots forehead and simultaneously monitors blood oxygenation and flow rate along with heart rate and respiration. Blood oxygenation is determined by multi-wavelength diffuse reflectance. Blood flow velocity, heart rate, and respiratory rate are determined by diffuse correlation spectroscopy.

RMD scientists are developing a patch which will warn pilots of the potential loss of consciousness due to lack of oxygen or hypoxia.