Wearable technology to help people recover after stroke

London, Feb 8 (IANS) Scientists at a British university are developing a new wearable technology to help people who have had a stroke recover use of their arm and hand.

A team of researchers at the University of Southampton, England, will create a wireless sleeve to provide information about muscle movement and strength while patients practice every-day tasks at home, a university statement said on Monday.

Led by professor Jane Burridge, the two-year project has been funded with a grant of nearly 1 million pounds from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) through its Invention for Innovation (i4i) programme.

“Stroke rehabilitation is increasingly home-based, as patients are often discharged from hospital after only a few days. This policy encourages independence and avoids problems associated with prolonged hospital stays,” Jane Burridge, professor of restorative neuroscience at Southampton, was quoted as saying.

“However, some patients struggle to carry out the exercises and they may question whether what they are doing is correct,” Burridge added.

The wearable technology will be the first to incorporate mechanomyography (MMG) microphone-like sensors that detect the vibration of a muscle when it contracts, and inertial measurement units (IMU), comprising tri-axial accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers that detect movement.

Data from the two types of sensors will be put together and then data that is not needed, for example outside noise, will then be removed from the muscle signal.

The feedback to patients will be presented on a user-friendly computer interface as an accurate representation of their movement, showing them how much they have improved.

“We hope that our sleeve will help stroke patients regain the use of their arm and hand, reduce time spent with therapists and allow them to have the recommended 45 minutes daily therapy more flexibly,” Burridge said.

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