Tech suit enables monitoring stroke patients’ movements
Image credit: University of Twente
A suit fitted with 41 sensors measuring muscle activity developed by Dutch researchers allows detailed monitoring of stroke patients’ movement, possibly improving outcome of rehabilitation programmes.
The suit comes accompanied with a transmitter that sends data from the sensors to a data-processing centre.
“There has long been a great need for systems like this, but the technology simply was not ready”, said Bart Klaassen, who developed the INTERACTION System as part of his PhD research project at the University of Twente. “That is now changing rapidly, thanks to rapid developments in the fields of battery technology, wearables, smart e-textiles and big data analysis.”
During trials, Klaassen had the patients were the suit under their clothes for three months. He and his colleagues were thus able to compile a massive dataset from sensor attached to soles of the shoes, hands, back and other parts of the body. For the first time, physicians were able to assess the condition of the patient using data from their everyday life and not laboratory testing.
“We have been able to demonstrate that all the information is transmitted successfully, that this process is very efficient, and much more besides,” said Klaassen. “We have succeeded in modelling all of the relevant movements, and in cleaning up the data that is relevant for the therapist by filtering out the rest.”
Klassen and his colleagues believe the technology could not only improve outcomes of physiotherapy programmes but also cut cost.
Patients involved in the pilot study were asked to provide continuous feedback about the comfort and convenience of the system.
Some 33 million people around the world are hit by a stroke every year. Many of the stroke survivors struggle with physical limitations. Rehabilitation programmes can be used to help the patients regain motor functions but there are only limited means for tailoring these programmes to the individual needs of each patient.