Physiological Signals & Systems

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Learn to measure, interpret and influence physiological signals of the human body in order to develop technological solutions for health problems in which physiological systems are dysfunctional.

Can you predict the chances of a coma patient’s recovery by measuring brain signals? What does it take to prevent elderly people with reduced balance and muscle strength from falling by giving them a warning sign? And how can you get insight into the pain system of people with chronic pain, in order to come up with effective treatment methods? To be able to answer any of these questions, you will need an in-depth understanding of the human physiological systems. If you’re eager to develop technological solutions for the prediction, diagnosis, therapy and/or prevention of health problems in which human physiological systems are dysfunctional (due to e.g. trauma or disease), the specialisation in Physiological Signals & Systems is the right choice for you.

Biomedical engineers specialised in physiological signals and systems have unique technological expertise in monitoring, evaluation and modulating key functions of the human body, inside and outside the hospital.

Jan Buitenweg, associate professor in the department of Biomedical Signals and Systems

What is Physiological Signals & Systems?

Within this specialisation, you will become skilled in measuring – and influencing – physiological signals of the human body in order to monitor body functions, measure the impact of (chronic) illness or trauma as well as the effect of treatment or a healthy lifestyle on physiological functions. You will deepen your understanding of the physical principles of electricity, magnetism, mechanics and fluids, as well as the anatomy and physiology of human functional systems of interest. These systems include the central nervous system, the cardiopulmonary system, the endocrine system and the human movement system.

Examples of courses you will follow during this specialisation:
  • Clinicians are well able to see that something’s wrong with a patient and use a clinical scale to quantify the severity of a dysfunction or disability. But in many cases, it’s not directly clear what is wrong and what would be the optimal treatment. The course Identification of Human Physiological Systems will teach you different approaches and techniques to get detailed insights into distorted physiological systems.
  • In the course Technology for Health, you will learn to analyse a healthcare problem and evaluate the potential impact of healthcare technology, and propose technology research for developing new concepts towards new solutions, beyond the present state of the art, including a technology transfer plan.
  • Measuring signals from the human body is not a straightforward task. In many cases, measurements are disturbed by unwanted influences from other processes. The course Advanced Techniques for Signal Analysis teaches you to reduce these influences in measuring physiological functions (e.g. evaluation of muscle fatigue, cardiac rhythms, epileptiform activity, etc.).

There’s a great variety of relevant and often complex challenges you can aim to solve within this specialisation. You might contribute to the development of deep brain stimulation techniques to treat tremor in people with Parkinson’s disease, detect sleep apnoea by monitoring a person’s breathing and oxygen levels, or come up with a solution to measure vital signs in daily life, using as few sensors as possible, for privacy and comfort reasons. Or what about minimising brain damage after a stroke? Your expertise enables you to translate new concepts into prototypes of medical devices, procedures or services that can be used in clinical practice or daily life for monitoring or restoration of physiological systems functionality and/or for supporting healthy behaviour and lifestyle. In fact; your work will be highly relevant for neurologists and neurosurgeons who will eventually use the technologies you have engineered. And more than impacting clinical practice, your work will improve the quality of life of people with chronic diseases or disabilities.

What will you learn?

As a graduate of this Master's and this specialisation, you have acquired specific, scientific knowledge, skills and values, which you can put to good use in your future job.

  • Knowledge

    After completing this Master’s specialisation, you:

    • understand how noisy signals can carry information about the input, structure or state of a dynamical system of interest and know how to represent these signals and systems mathematically;
    • know the human anatomy and physiology, the underlying function, behaviour and regulation and can describe this from a systems theory perspective;
    • understand how medical technology for observing human function, behaviour and physiological state can impact healthcare problems, clinical practice and the daily life of patients.
  • Skills

    After successfully finishing this Master’s specialisation, you:

    • can select and apply sensing principles to observe human function, behaviour and physiological state and optimise the obtained signals for digitisation, and process these signals to reduce influences of disturbing sources and extract measures of interest;
    • can build and validate mathematical models of human physiological systems to explain, analyse and predict function and behaviour, including the consequences of trauma and disease;
    • can design experiment setups and prototypes of medical devices to study or monitor properties and changes in human physiological function and behaviour.
  • Values

    After completing this Master’s specialisation, you:

    • keep focusing on the fit between your expertise and societal healthcare challenges to increase your impact as a biomedical engineer;
    • take responsibility for the quality, safety and ethical acceptability of your ideas, actions and results;
    • seek synergy with other stakeholders in society to get the results of your work adopted and used in practice.

Other master’s and specialisations

Is this specialisation not exactly what you’re looking for? Maybe one of the other specialisations suits you better. Or find out more about related Master’s:

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