Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

How to help heal an injured joint

21.03.2011
Knee patients need patience: injuries to these joints take weeks to heal. Fraunhofer researchers have now developed a system that documents the healing process in detail. This motivates patients and at the same time helps doctors to fine-tune the course of treatment.

There’s nothing like the sheer delight of sun and snow on a skiing trip. But a momentary lapse of concentration can have nasty consequences. Taking a tumble on the slopes often causes injuries – most commonly to the knee.

Weeks can go by before knees regain their full function, and patients are obliged to re-learn how to walk. The time it takes for the knee to heal is directly related to how well it reacts to the chosen treatment. But how is an orthopedic doctor to evaluate the healing process? And how are patients to know what progress they are making? Currently, doctors can only perform limited function tests, whilst patients are obliged to rely on their own subjective feelings.

Now researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA in Stuttgart have developed a system for gathering exact data on knee mobility. It shows patients as well as medical staff how the joint is doing. “It not only lets sufferers see how their healing process is coming along; it also means doctors can tell straight away whether they need to adapt the treatment,” says Dipl.-Ing. Bernhard Kleiner of Fraunhofer IPA. “This can give patients a psychological boost.” They might not feel they are getting any better, but the system highlights every little improvement in knee mobility. “And that’s very motivating,” says Kleiner.

This is how the novel approach for monitoring the treatment works: Special sensors are placed in a kind of bracket that is integrated into the bandage. These register the knee’s range of movement over a period of time to determine exactly how patients are moving their knee. A new piece of software evaluates these data and presents them in an easy-to-understand format. It sounds pretty simple but it was a tough challenge for the engineers, because such angular measurement systems have only ever been used in industry up to now. The central question was how to place the sensors onto the human body without inconveniencing the patient. The answer, researchers found, lay in using lightweight materials and miniaturizing the sensors, which fall into two categories: angular measurement systems that are based on magnetic principles; and acceleration and rate-of-rotation sensors.

Depending on the injury and treatment, the system not only records the joint’s range of movement but can also determine to what degree it rotates and what forces are acting upon it. The sensors observe movements and store data non-stop. This allows doctors to observe how the knee’s range of movement changes over time, so they can recognize trends and, where necessary, adjust the treatment. What is more, the various fittings for the sensor systems have been designed by the researchers not to restrict freedom of movement in any way, meaning patients do not even notice that their joint is being monitored.

“We would like to apply the measurement of human kinematics to other parts of the body in future,” says Kleiner, and the Fraunhofer researchers have already set their sights on the shoulder and the hips. However, these joints are even more demanding because the system will have to measure their movement about all three axes. To achieve this, engineers are coupling 3-D sensor systems with appropriate software. Visitors to the MEDTEC Europe trade show (March 22-24, 2011, Hall 6, Booth 6211) will have a chance to see the experts demonstrating how mobile joint monitoring works.

Bernhard Kleiner | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.fraunhofer.de/en/press/research-news/2010-2011/15/how-to-help-heal-an-injured-joint.jsp

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht A 'half-hearted' solution to one-sided heart failure
24.11.2017 | Boston Children's Hospital

nachricht New study points the way to therapy for rare cancer that targets the young
22.11.2017 | Rockefeller University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New proton record: Researchers measure magnetic moment with greatest possible precision

High-precision measurement of the g-factor eleven times more precise than before / Results indicate a strong similarity between protons and antiprotons

The magnetic moment of an individual proton is inconceivably small, but can still be quantified. The basis for undertaking this measurement was laid over ten...

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

IceCube experiment finds Earth can block high-energy particles from nuclear reactions

24.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 'half-hearted' solution to one-sided heart failure

24.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

Heidelberg Researchers Study Unique Underwater Stalactites

24.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>