Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UWE Builds Device to Ease Discomfort for Prosthesis Wearers

27.11.2002


For wearers of prosthetic or false limbs, the comfort and effectiveness of the socket fit is crucial. New ways of measuring and solving socket pressure points - using load analysis techniques from the aircraft industry - have been developed by engineering and computing researchers at the University of the West of England.



A team from UWE’’s Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Mathematical Sciences has just been awarded a grant of £52,000 by the charity Remedi to further their research, which could lead to widespread benefits.

"In the UK alone there are over 55,000 amputees, over 70% of whom are elderly people with lower limb amputations," said Dr Siamak Noroozi, Director of the Computational Mechanics Group who is leading the project team.


"Treatment is costly, but a highly advanced prosthesis has little value if the socket is uncomfortable and ineffective. Over time, the stump can shrink and change in size, and excessive pressure can result in damage to remaining tissue. Our research could provide prosthesis specialists with a method of assessing socket fit that is both visual and accurate and best of all, is non-invasive."

Researchers have already developed a prototype in which the entire socket forms an optical transducer, able to output signals in response to changes in pressure. The technique is based on methods of detecting stresses in highly complex aerospace structures. A special reflective coating is applied inside the polymer socket housing the stump of a limb. Special lenses sensitive to polarised light are used to view the patient walking and clearly reveal the pressure points as contour lines of different colour.

These visual results can indicate problem areas immediately to a prosthetist. But the device has a second string to its bow - the constantly shifting contour lines of pressure can be integrated with a data acquisition system. UWE computing experts are working on software to link this to an artificial neural network capable of being trained to recognise and interpret the input data. "This means we can capture the value of a contour at any given moment," Siamak said. "We can then use the software to predict pressure between the residual limb and the socket. This can be stored and analysed, and used to build a database able to predict more accurately how minute changes to the configuration of a socket will affect the wearer."

The beauty of the system is that the reflective coating can be applied to the same socket material - a type of polymer - that is already used for sockets. The system can be used qualitatively - for the specialist to make a visual judgement on the fit. It can also be used quantitatively, recording all the details of the stresses as they change under normal movement.

Socket fit is a major problem with all prostheses - one that people have been trying to solve for decades, according to Dr John Vinney, Head of the School of Mechanical, Manufacturing and Aerospace Engineering at UWE. "Previous research has concentrated on theoretical approaches or has used invasive wires and monitors which may alter the normal gait of the patient being monitored. This method gives us accurate patient-based data.

"The techniques could be of great assistance to patients worldwide. The system could be used remotely, to analyse data captured on the other side of world."

The two-year research project begins in January 2003, and testing and evaluation will take place in conjunction with staff and patients from the North Bristol Healthcare Trust Disablement Services Centre. The team hopes to produce a hand-held design tool that will help the prosthetist visualise and quantify what is actually going on inside a socket, so that they can improve the level of comfort for their patients. As Dr Vinney concludes: "We want to produce a device that works quickly and accurately, with the potential to dramatically improve the quality of life for a significant number of people."

Julia Weston | alfa
Further information:
http://www.uwe.ac.uk

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Organ-on-a-chip mimics heart's biomechanical properties
23.02.2017 | Vanderbilt University

nachricht Researchers identify cause of hereditary skeletal muscle disorder
22.02.2017 | Klinikum der Universität München

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: Safe glide at total engine failure with ELA-inside

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded after a glide flight with an Airbus A320 in ditching on the Hudson River. All 155 people on board were saved.

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded...

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New pop-up strategy inspired by cuts, not folds

27.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Sandia uses confined nanoparticles to improve hydrogen storage materials performance

27.02.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

Decoding the genome's cryptic language

27.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>