Research appearing in the journal BioMedical Engineering OnLine suggests that wearable technology may hold treatment implications in clinical rehabilitation, ultimately serving as a low-cost approach to trunk motor rehabilitation. Neurorehabilitation researchers based out of Italy report that they have developed a low-cost, wearable system of strain sensors comprised of conductive elastomers printed onto fabric.

The sensors are powered by a low-voltage battery, researchers explain, which are then able to send data to a computer through Bluetooth. The case study reportedly encompassed a wireless inertial sensor, micro electro-mechanical system (MEMS) containing triaxial accelerometers and magnetometers used to validate the accuracy of researchers’ results.

A healthy study participant was used to test the wearable sensors. The sensors assisted in collecting a comprehensive set of more than 600 different movements, at varying speeds and number of repetitions, over a range of movements. Researchers note that in each instance, the wearable sensors were able to accurately measure movement. According to the research team, the device may hold the potential to remotely monitor physiotherapy exercises at home, and to monitor posture, or flexibility during everyday tasks.

Michael Bartolo, MD, PhD, study leader, notes that as of yet the team has only investigated trunk movements. While the device has not been developed for high-precision trunk-motions monitoring, Bartolo notes, the device serves as an “easy-to-use, lower-cost system for the monitoring of the patient’s motor activity that poses a real advancement in the development of future useful and portable rehabilitation devices,” Bartolo and team say in the study.

Ultimately, the technologies and methods may offer a low-cost and unobtrusive approach to trunk motor rehabilitation, the researchers conclude.

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[Source: BioMed Central]