Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

IT takes steps to help people with joint disorders

10.12.2004


A new generation of devices to help people with joint disorders walk with ease and comfort are becoming a reality thanks to the work of GAIT, which is creating the world’s first ‘intelligent’ mechanical devices to support knee and ankle joints.



Due to end in August next year, the 36-month IST programme project is developing the most advanced leg supports designed to date, combining biomechanics with information technologies to produce more comfortable and effective devices that could benefit millions of people across Europe.

“The orthoses we are working with are apparatus that are attached to the leg to support the knees and ankles of people who have joint dysfunctions or lack muscle strength,” explains project coordinator José Luis Pons at the Instituto de Automática Industrial (IAI) in Spain. “Traditionally they [orthoses] are purely mechanical devices that provide rigidity to the leg when a patient is standing and allow it to flex when they are walking.”


Traditional devices, which rely exclusively on mechanical components, are often uncomfortable to wear and though they provide necessary support they do not necessarily allow patients to walk normally and with ease. The four GAIT partners are overcoming those problems by incorporating IT into orthoses, creating intelligent devices that adapt to the way patients’ move and the activities they perform.

Added intelligence through IT

“The orthoses we are designing are unique because they contain electronic sensors and actuators to monitor joint movement and adapt the orthosis to it,” Pons says.

Each leg orthosis contains two sets of sensors, one to measure the force being exerted by the patient’s movements on the joint and the other to determine the pressure being exerted on the patient’s leg by the orthosis itself. The actuators use the data obtained from the sensors to set and reset the movement parameters of the mechanical components of the orthosis, thereby allowing the patient to move more naturally.

“Without the incorporation of sensors and actuators, traditional orthoses often cause people to walk abnormally resulting in higher energy use and greater discomfort, something that is a significant problem especially for the elderly,” Pons notes. “With this intelligent system patients should be able to move more naturally because the device can react to the activities they are performing, providing them with greater comfort regardless of whether they are sitting, standing, walking or going up stairs.”

Besides giving the patient support, the mechanical components of the orthosis are designed to assist movement by acting much like a healthy joint, returning the energy from the patient’s stride to the leg and reducing the restrictions to movement. The sensors also monitor the comfort levels of the patient, a critically important issue given that orthoses are often attached to patients’ legs for long periods of time.

“Because orthotic devices are attached tightly around the joints it is important that they are set correctly to ensure maximum comfort and reduce the risk of friction which could cause ulcers and sores when the patient sweats or when the weather is hot and humid,” the coordinator explains.

All the data collected by the sensors are stored in microchips in the orthoses which can be accessed and controlled wirelessly by doctors. The measurements allow specialists to accurately monitor how well the patient is responding to treatment and to adjust the movement parameters of the device with high precision and therefore better adapt it to patients’ needs.

Prototypes take steps towards expanding market

The project partners have so far developed several prototypes of their intelligent orthoses and have tested them on healthy people. According to Pons, the project is planning to run clinical trials with around a dozen patients in Spain and The Netherlands from next March as one of the final steps toward developing a commercially available variant of the system.

The project coordinator expects the GAIT devices to be particularly beneficial to anyone with movement problems caused by neurological disorders or diseases such as arthritis, polio or even strokes. In Europe alone more than 100 million people are estimated to suffer from some form of arthritis in many cases affecting their knee and ankle joints, making it one of the leading causes of disability across the continent.

“A preliminary evaluation of the market shows that these orthoses could benefit a huge number of people of any age and with a wide range of disabilities,” Pons says. “In addition, because Europe has an ageing population the incidence of age-related disabilities, such as arthritis, is likely to increase.”

With GAIT arthritis sufferers and people with other joint and muscle disorders are likely to regain much of the freedom of movement their disability has claimed from them, potentially allowing millions of people to live a more comfortable and active life.

Tara Morris | alfa
Further information:
http://istresults.cordis.lu/

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Using fragment-based approaches to discover new antibiotics
21.06.2018 | SLAS (Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening)

nachricht Scientists learn more about how gene linked to autism affects brain
19.06.2018 | Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

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: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Graphene assembled film shows higher thermal conductivity than graphite film

22.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Fast rising bedrock below West Antarctica reveals an extremely fluid Earth mantle

22.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

Zebrafish's near 360 degree UV-vision knocks stripes off Google Street View

22.06.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>