Date of Award

Fall 2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical Engineering - (Ph.D.)


Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

MengChu Zhou

Second Advisor

William N. Carr

Third Advisor

Edwin Hou

Fourth Advisor

Yun Q. Shi

Fifth Advisor

Zhiming Ji


Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) is becoming a significant enabling technology for a wide variety of applications. Recent advances in WSN have facilitated the realization of pervasive health monitoring for both homecare and hospital environments. Current technological advances in sensors, power-efficient integrated circuits, and wireless communication have allowed the development of miniature, lightweight, low-cost, and smart physiological sensor nodes. These nodes are capable of sensing, processing, and communicating one or more vital signs. Furthermore, they can be used in wireless personal area networks (WPANs) or wireless body sensor networks (WBSNs) for health monitoring. Many studies were performed and/or are under way in order to develop flexible, reliable, secure, real-time, and power-efficient WBSNs suitable for healthcare applications. To efficiently control and monitor a patient’s status as well as to reduce the cost of power and maintenance, IEEE 802.15.4/ZigBee, a communication standard for low-power wireless communication, is developed as a new efficient technology in health monitoring systems. The main contribution of this dissertation is to provide a modeling, analysis, and design framework for WSN health monitoring systems. This dissertation describes the applications of wireless sensor networks in the healthcare area and discusses the related issues and challenges. The main goal of this study is to evaluate the acceptance of the current wireless standard for enabling WSNs for healthcare monitoring in real environment. Its focus is on IEEE 802.15.4/ZigBee protocols combined with hardware and software platforms. Especially, it focuses on Carrier Sense Multiple Access with Collision Avoidance mechanism (CSMA/CA) algorithms for reliable communication in multiple accessing networks. The performance analysis metrics are established through measured data and mathematical analysis.

This dissertation evaluates the network performance of the IEEE 802.15.4 unslotted CSMA/CA mechanism for different parameter settings through analytical modeling and simulation. For this protocol, a Markov chain model is used to derive the analytical expression of normalized packet transmission, reliability, channel access delay, and energy consumption. This model is used to describe the stochastic behavior of random access and deterministic behavior of IEEE 802.15.4 CSMA/CA. By using it, the different aspects of health monitoring can be analyzed. The sound transmission of heart beat with other smaller data packet transmission is studied. The obtained theoretical analysis and simulation results can be used to estimate and design the high performance health monitoring systems.