Hyponatremia is the most common electrolyte disorder. It has been reported in up to 30% of geriatrics in the nursing home population. Mild chronic hyponatremia has been shown to cause gait disturbances and decrease reaction time, leading to an increase in falls in the elderly population. Therefore, detection and monitoring of sodium imbalances in a population that frequently experiences adverse effects from hyponatremia will help improve the care and quality of life for the elderly.
Our solution to monitor sodium imbalance is through novel fluorescent, sodium-sensing particles. These particles can be injected into the subcutaneous space of the skin and detected non-invasively from an external device. The intensity of the particles is dependent on the sodium concentration of the interstitial space where the sensors reside.
We envision our system to be used as follows. An elderly person who has a history of hyponatremia will receive a subcutaneous injection of sodium sensing particles from a care provider, much like a tuberculosis test. For the next week a care provider will scan the particle site to determine the sodium levels a few times a day. The care provider will then advise on diet and fluid intake to help the patient maintain normal sodium levels and prevent adverse effects of hyponatremia, leading to improved cognitive ability and reduced risk of falls.