Oct 13

A Collaborative Approach to Designing a Torso Monitoring Wearable for Stroke

At The MiNT Academy, our vision has always been to bridge the gap between industry, practitioners and patients. We are dedicated to influencing the design of technology to ensure that practical, useful devices are seamlessly integrated into clinical practice. To make this vision a reality, we work closely with technology companies, providing them with clinician and patient feedback, support with grant applications, research protocols, case studies, and conducting feasibility studies.For this project, we collaborated with Latefoss, a company founded in 2021 with a mission to promote health and longevity. Latefoss recognised the critical role of trunk control in overall biomechanics and set out to develop a new Trunk Monitoring Wearable System.

Why Trunk Control in Stroke Patients?

Trunk control holds immense importance in the journey to recovery for stroke patients. Research has shown that it serves as an early predictor of functional outcomes, and targeted trunk training exercises can significantly enhance trunk performance and sitting balance. Beyond this, there's evidence to suggest that trunk training can lead to improvements in activities of daily living, trunk function, standing balance, walking ability, upper and lower limb function, and overall quality of life.However, a challenge we faced in stroke rehabilitation was the lack of devices that could measure data on trunk position and provide real-time feedback to guide patients through their rehabilitation process.

The Innovative Trunk Monitoring Wearable

Latefoss took up this challenge and, in collaboration with us at The MiNT Academy, developed a Trunk Monitoring Wearable System that has the potential to revolutionise stroke rehabilitation. This wearable technology not only digitises and records users' trunk kinematics but also provides live multisensory feedback in real time.Designed with user convenience and home accessibility in mind, the wearable's core principles are aimed at motivating users to focus on improving movement quality and enhancing their awareness of biomechanics.

A Closer Look at the Wearable

The Trunk Monitoring Wearable System collects and processes user kinematic data, presenting it through live visual and haptic feedback. Users receive visual feedback in the form of an avatar and a radar plot, offering a comprehensive view of their movements. Haptic feedback guides users, responding instantly when they deviate from the ideal range, either by pointing them in the right direction (carrot mode) or signalling the direction they need to move away from (wall mode).

Feasibility Study and Key Findings

Our collaborative effort led us to conduct a feasibility study, a crucial step in assessing the potential of this innovative wearable in real-world stroke rehabilitation scenarios. The study aimed to achieve three primary objectives:
1. Assess the usability of the device within the stroke population.
2. Evaluate user comfort and the convenience of using the wearable at home.
3. Compare movement quality with and without feedback from the wearable.

The results of the study were promising:
- Participants found the wearable's feedback to be constructive and comfortable.
- Most users were able to independently put on the device.
- The combination of therapist and device feedback showed the highest improvement in trunk symmetry.
- Visual feedback was more comprehensible than haptic feedback.
- Participants identified the need for more training to fully benefit from the device.

Looking Towards the Future

Our collaborative journey with Latefoss is far from over. Building on the success of our feasibility study, we aim to:
1. Enhance usability, user interface, and wearable design.
2. Collaborate further for the next phase of studies and explore funding opportunities.
3. Evaluate the device's efficacy against existing trunk outcome measures.
4. Attract more academic involvement to gather supporting evidence.
At The MiNT Academy, we are thrilled to be a part of this collaborative effort that is pushing the boundaries of stroke rehabilitation. The Trunk Monitoring Wearable System holds immense promise for improving the lives of stroke patients by enhancing trunk control and biomechanical awareness. Together, we are pioneering the future of healthcare, where technology and clinical expertise seamlessly converge for the benefit of patients. Stay tuned for more exciting developments on this incredible journey.
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