Mar 082011
 
Knee X-ray

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Knee injuries are one of the most common injuries that can befall sportspeople or those that simply enjoy an active lifestyle.

Such injuries can lay up patients for weeks while they wait for the joints to regain their full function. Although the time it takes for the knee to heal is directly related to how well it responds to the chosen treatment, it can be difficult for an orthopedic doctor to evaluate the healing process and for the patients themselves to know what progress they are making. Researchers have now developed a new type of bandage that features integrated sensors to monitor a knee’s range of movement over time to let patients know how they are progressing and let doctors know it they need to adapt the treatment.

The new bandage, developed by researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA in Stuttgart, comprises a bracket that incorporates special sensors that measure and record the joint’s range of movement, as well as determining to what degree it rotates and what forces are acting upon it. The sensors used in the bandage include angular measurement systems based on magnetic principles, and acceleration and rate-of-rotation sensors.

The sensors observe movements and record data continuously, allowing doctors to determine exactly how patients are moving their knee and observe how the knee’s range of movement changes over time. Using software that evaluates the data and presents it in an easy-to-understand format, doctors can recognize trends and, if necessary, adjust the treatment. The researchers say the various fittings for the sensor systems have been designed so they don’t restrict freedom of movement in any way, so the patients do not even notice their knee is being monitored.

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