- The sensor can be employed in injury rehabilitation, says experts
- Changing how to stay healthy and shaping many industries.
The researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT-Delhi) have unveiled a scalable and wearable pressure sensor that revolutionises how one addresses gait and postural deformities. This innovative nanocomposite-based sensor presents a cost-effective alternative to costly footwear modifications, surgeries, and posture correction accessories, potentially transforming the healthcare landscape.
Gait and postural deformities afflict countless individuals worldwide, leading to issues such as splay foot, flat foot, unstable hind foot with protruding heels, high arches, and irregular gait. These deformities contribute to poor balance, abnormal posture, swollen knees, and weakened joints, adversely affecting mobility and quality of life. Therefore, effectively monitoring these conditions is essential to expedite patient recovery and prevent long-term harm.
The researchers have focused their efforts on detecting and correcting postural deformities. Their flexible wearable sensors can remarkably adapt to various deformities, responding to specific pressure patterns associated with each abnormality. This sensor, crafted from a unique nanocomposite material blending light-sensitive polymers and piezoelectric nanoparticles, boasts advantages such as easy array design for large-area pixelated sensing, a straightforward manufacturing process, and cost-effectiveness. It can be seamlessly integrated into insoles of various sizes or attached to different body parts for localised pressure sensing, providing valuable data for machine learning algorithms.
Healthcare and Beyond
Integrating sensors and Machine Learning leads to the invention of intelligent sensors for technologies like healthcare, sports science, defence, etc. The sensor’s ability to detect foot problems by analysing pressure variations on the hindfoot and converting them into electrical output holds promise for addressing knee joints, hips, and spinal health issues. Clinical specialists can analyse the sensor-generated output using conventional machine learning models, comparing pressure patterns to predefined norms to diagnose specific deformities. This information enables the design of custom insoles to balance out abnormal pressure distribution, offering a low-cost alternative to expensive interventions.
The sensor’s versatility extends beyond postural deformity monitoring. It can detect various human activities, distinguishing between walking, running, and other movements by sensing pressure changes in the hindfoot. This functionality has significant implications for intelligent healthcare systems, aiding in health analysis for individuals with conditions such as diabetes and obesity and facilitating fall detection in elderly patients, particularly those with Parkinson’s disease or disabilities. Furthermore, the sensor’s adaptability makes it invaluable in injury rehabilitation, with applications including assessing hand grip strength to monitor recovery progress following limb injuries.
The researchers claim that the wearable pressure sensor promises to revolutionise several industries, from agriculture and healthcare to energy and sports. Its potential to provide cost-effective solutions for postural deformity management, activity tracking, and injury rehabilitation makes it a game-changer in wearable technology. As this technology continues to evolve, it opens up new horizons for innovative smart devices, addressing critical challenges in the current sensor landscape and transforming lives worldwide.