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 Finding new clues to brain cancer treatment
21.02.2020 | Case Western Reserve University

nachricht UIC researchers find unique organ-specific signature profiles for blood vessel cells
18.02.2020 | University of Illinois at Chicago

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: High-pressure scientists in Bayreuth discover promising material for information technology

Researchers at the University of Bayreuth have discovered an unusual material: When cooled down to two degrees Celsius, its crystal structure and electronic properties change abruptly and significantly. In this new state, the distances between iron atoms can be tailored with the help of light beams. This opens up intriguing possibilities for application in the field of information technology. The scientists have presented their discovery in the journal "Angewandte Chemie - International Edition". The new findings are the result of close cooperation with partnering facilities in Augsburg, Dresden, Hamburg, and Moscow.

The material is an unusual form of iron oxide with the formula Fe₅O₆. The researchers produced it at a pressure of 15 gigapascals in a high-pressure laboratory...

Im Focus: From China to the South Pole: Joining forces to solve the neutrino mass puzzle

Study by Mainz physicists indicates that the next generation of neutrino experiments may well find the answer to one of the most pressing issues in neutrino physics

Among the most exciting challenges in modern physics is the identification of the neutrino mass ordering. Physicists from the Cluster of Excellence PRISMA+ at...

Im Focus: Therapies without drugs

Fraunhofer researchers are investigating the potential of microimplants to stimulate nerve cells and treat chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, or Parkinson’s disease. Find out what makes this form of treatment so appealing and which challenges the researchers still have to master.

A study by the Robert Koch Institute has found that one in four women will suffer from weak bladders at some point in their lives. Treatments of this condition...

Im Focus: A step towards controlling spin-dependent petahertz electronics by material defects

The operational speed of semiconductors in various electronic and optoelectronic devices is limited to several gigahertz (a billion oscillations per second). This constrains the upper limit of the operational speed of computing. Now researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg, Germany, and the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay have explained how these processes can be sped up through the use of light waves and defected solid materials.

Light waves perform several hundred trillion oscillations per second. Hence, it is natural to envision employing light oscillations to drive the electronic...

Im Focus: Freiburg researcher investigate the origins of surface texture

Most natural and artificial surfaces are rough: metals and even glasses that appear smooth to the naked eye can look like jagged mountain ranges under the microscope. There is currently no uniform theory about the origin of this roughness despite it being observed on all scales, from the atomic to the tectonic. Scientists suspect that the rough surface is formed by irreversible plastic deformation that occurs in many processes of mechanical machining of components such as milling.

Prof. Dr. Lars Pastewka from the Simulation group at the Department of Microsystems Engineering at the University of Freiburg and his team have simulated such...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

70th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting: Around 70 Laureates set to meet with young scientists from approx. 100 countries

12.02.2020 | Event News

11th Advanced Battery Power Conference, March 24-25, 2020 in Münster/Germany

16.01.2020 | Event News

Laser Colloquium Hydrogen LKH2: fast and reliable fuel cell manufacturing

15.01.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Turbomachine expander offers efficient, safe strategy for heating, cooling

25.02.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

The seismicity of Mars

25.02.2020 | Earth Sciences

Cancer cachexia: Extracellular ligand helps to prevent muscle loss

25.02.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>