Surgical procedures under general anesthetic constitute significant risk factors for increased stress, post-operative trauma and other emotional disorders. Anxious patients require larger doses of anesthetics and other drugs that are routinely administered during surgery, and present more fluctuating physiological activity (e.g. heart rate, blood pressure). Common practice for reducing anxiety focuses primarily on the administration of drugs, which may delay post-operative awakening and subsequent discharge from the recovery ward or hospital. Augmenting medication with other interventions that do not involve drugs may be beneficial in reducing anxiety while decreasing the amount of medications administered. The proposed research will focus on: (1) identifying signal processing methods that characterize the patient state using physiological markers, (2) developing novel methods to achieve a desirable positive change of that state, and (3) evaluating the efficacy of the resulting system against current practice (pharmacological interventions).

The first part of the project is coordinated and funded by the Medical School of the University of Nicosia.