July 2020

SMART KNEE BANDAGE FOR ARTHROSIS PATIENTS

Mobile sensors measure the movement of the knee joint. These values serve as training data for machine learning algorithms to estimate the strain of the knee joint. Image courtesy of IfSS.

A multidisciplinary team of researchers and industry partners have collaborated on the development of a sensor-equipped prototype smart knee bandage that uses self-learning algorithms to estimate strain. Dubbed “Anthrokinemat,” this smart bandage was designed to support arthrosis patients in determining the right amount of daily exercise. All relevant data on the strains of the joints are collected and transferred to the patient’s mobile phone. Development of the bandage is based on the work of sports scientists of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany, and Bauerfeind, a German bracing and support company, is among the project partners.

The smart bandage is equipped with sensors that transmit a signal to the patient’s mobile phone to warn against exceeding the strain limit. While arthrosis patients should do intensive exercise daily, excessive strain, such as hiking several hours, might stress the damaged joints and cause weeks of pain, said sports orthopedist Professor Stefan Sell of KIT’s Institute of Sports and Sports Science (IfSS).

A major challenge in the development of the bandage has been the search for an appropriate algorithm to quantify knee strain. To solve this problem, machine-learning was used. The algorithm is trained with movement data and automatically learns to estimate the forces in the knee resulting from a movement. Some research findings have already been published in the journal Sensors. A follow-up prototype is also in development.

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