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During the past year I've consumed a great deal of information about health and fitness. While some changes to diet and exercise will give visibible results on the outside, I am curious about what's going on on the inside.

While I could frequently see a doctor and ask him to take blood tests, I would like to be able to gather (and analyse, to the limited extent I can) data myself.

The type of equipement I'm looking for would probably be somewhat similar to a glucose meter, perhaps even a continuous glucose monitoring system, but more advanced in that it registers more data, say Glucocorticoid.

Notice that the question says "measuring". If equipment is only available that measures but does not on it's own store or display data, that's acceptable as long as I can interface with the device myself. I could both build the hardware and software to pull data out.

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What kind of data do you expect to get from these measurements and what do you need them for? –  Ivo Flipse Feb 22 '12 at 16:50
    
I don't need them for anything in particular. One might wonder "How long can I run, before by levels of blood coagulants rise?", but I imagine people could come up with all kinds of useful applications for improving and better understanding their own exercises. Given the apparent lack of options, I'm not picky about the exact type of data that can be extracted. –  Letharion Feb 23 '12 at 8:39

1 Answer 1

Unfortunately, there are really no available facilities to do blood tests yourself, most likely because of the nature of how they get analyzed and the specific items needed to collect the specimens, as well as being cost prohibitive and federally regulated for portions of the process.

For example, most blood tubes have some sort of additive to cause the blood to react in specific ways. A tiger top tube (red and black rubber stop) or the newer plastic version, the gold top, has a clot activator and a gel for specific serum separation. Once the blood is drawn, it is centrifuged, and then assayed in various ways, most of them involving microscopic counts and smears of various types.

In addition to this, there are various reagents and stains for blood tests that are necessary, most of which require some sort of facility type license (clinic, hospital, etc) to purchase. And, the last time I checked, the needles and other implements were also controlled, due to their possible use as drug paraphernalia.

Add to the list training, because if you are drawing different types of tubes, there are specific methods and order of draw to avoid contamination one tube with another, disposal of the body fluids and sharps after you are done, which is tightly federally regulated, with very hefty fines for improper disposal or infractions. Additionally, it is extremely awkward to draw blood on yourself, and an improper draw can result in exploded RBC's in your sample, which means you have to start all over.

There are various home kits that you can order for different tests, however they are somewhat cost prohibitive, and are of the blood spot, send it in type of test. I am not aware of any where you draw your own tubes and send them in, but I haven't looked at them in a while, that may have changed.

Your best bet would be to come up with something that you want to test/prove, research the literature to see if it has been done already, and then present it to a local college that has a doctoral level kinesiology program, and see if they want to take it on as a research paper.

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Just as an aside, my background for a lot of this was my time in the Air Force as a Med Surgical ward tech, and 3 years as a primary tech in the ER, doing blood draws as part of normal duties. –  JohnP Jul 13 '12 at 1:45
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Wow, that's a good answer! Obviously not what I had hoped for, but still. I guess I'll need to keep waiting for tricorders to show up instead. ;) –  Letharion Jul 13 '12 at 6:20
    
@Letharion gizmodo.com/5923980/… -they're not that far away. Question is whether they'll be for consumer use. –  Robin Ashe Jul 13 '12 at 15:22
    
Actual tricorders in the works! –  Letharion Jan 15 '13 at 8:51
    
@Letharion - The IDEA is in the works :p. The X prize for that was announced almost 2 years ago. IIRC, it took nearly 9 years for the shuttle prize, I would guesstimate that at least that will pass before this arrives, and it will have a LONG way to go before getting to full "tricoder" status. But, it is a step in the right direction, for sure!' –  JohnP Jan 15 '13 at 14:44

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