Mobile Joint Monitoring Right Out of Star Trek

You’ve sprained your knee by twisting it in a fall or by stepping in a hole while running, and now you face weeks of rehab.

How do you, and your doctor, know it’s healing properly? A new futuristic knee brace may hold the answer.

Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA in Stuttgart, Germany, have developed a system right out of Star Trek for gathering exact data on knee mobility. It shows patients as well as medical staff how the joint is doing.

“It not only lets sufferers see how their healing process is coming along, it also means doctors can tell straight away whether they need to adapt the treatment,” says Dipl.-Ing. Bernhard Kleiner of Fraunhofer IPA. “This can give patients a psychological boost.”

The light-weight knee brace integrates miniaturized sensors that record knee movement and determine exactly how well the knee is moving.

Depending on the injury and treatment, the system, which is not yet commercially available, records the joint’s range of motion, to what degree it rotates, and what forces are acting upon it.

This allows doctors to observe how the knee’s range of movement changes over time so they can recognize trends and, where necessary, adjust treatment.

In the future, Fraunhofer researchers plan to apply the concept to other parts of the body, including the shoulder and hips, and are coupling 3-D sensor systems with appropriate software to make it so.

To find out more on how to help heal an injured knee joint, check out the latest feature at the Sports Injury Handbook website.

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