Covid-19 and Equipment Cleaning

How has COVID-19 Complicated Data Collection?

Data collection has gotten much more complicated because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Keeping subject and researcher safe means following guidelines introduced by research institutions regarding the interaction between subjects and researchers. In addition, the use of instrumentation and proper cleaning add time and uncertainty to the process.  Because we support the integration of many hardware systems used to collect data, we did a survey of our suppliers to better understand their cleaning guidelines.

Basics of Cleaning

There have been many suggestions for destroying SARS-CoV-2, or novel coronavirus, on surfaces.  They range from exposing surfaces to ultra violet light, application of high heat, to simply leaving surfaces untouched for extended periods of time. More common methods include use of warm water and soap which has been shown to break down the fatty surface of the virus. It is the basis for recommendations on hand washing.  The use of disinfectants, most notably 70% solutions isopropyl alcohol (not ethyl alcohol), is also common.

General Guidelines

The manner of subject instrumentation, subject interaction with computer keyboards and monitors, and the number of researchers involved in data collection will all affect cleaning protocols.

Computers, Monitors, Amplifiers – If possible, keep these devices 6 feet or more from subjects to avoid contamination. If subjects must interact with keyboards and monitors or if multiple researchers interact with the hardware, cleaning with 70% solutions of isopropyl alcohol between each use is recommended.   

Subject Instrumentation – Most hard surface instrumentation can be cleaned by wiping with 70% solutions of isopropyl alcohol. This includes instrumentation such as Delsys Trigno sensors, NDI trakStar sensors, Polhemus G4 and Liberty sensors, Noraxon EMG and IMU sensors. Straps and other cloth attachments should be washed with soap and water. EEG headcaps and electrodes (not cable connections) can be submerged in alcohol solutions for a few minutes. Reflective markers and clusters of reflective markers can be cleaned by gently shaking them in a solution of warm water and soap and then rinsing with plain water. Substituting a solution of isopropyl alcohol may be used as a disinfectant but there have been no studies of its effectiveness on this type of surface.  Note that the oils of your hands and fingers can degrade marker surfaces, so minimize touching the reflective marker surface with bare skin during cleaning or use.

Company Links

The guidelines above were gathered from published descriptions and private correspondence.

Dell -

Delsys -

BioSemi -

ANT Neuro -

Noraxon -

Vicon -

AMTI, APDM, Bertec, B&L Engineering, Kistler, NDI, PhaseSpace, Polhemus and Xsens all provided recommendations in private correspondence.

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