Sensors could remotely monitor rehabilitation after joint surgery

A self-powered sensor developed at the University of Waterloo could allow doctors to remotely monitor the recovery of surgical patients.

The small, tube-like device is designed to be fitted to braces after joint surgery to wirelessly send information to computers, smartphones or smartwatches to track range of motion and other indicators of improvement.

“That data would be continuously collected, so it would be as though the physician or physiotherapist was always there, always observing the patient,” said Hassan Askari, an engineering doctoral candidate at Waterloo.

The same sensor could also be used in a variety of other ways, including in the tyres of autonomous vehicles to detect and respond to icy roads.

A prototype built and tested by the researchers combines electromagnetism and triboelectricity, a relatively new energy harvesting technique that involves bringing different materials together to produce current.

When bent or twisted, the device generates enough electricity for sensing and powering electronic circuits for processing and wireless signal transmission.
“The aim was to develop a sensor that works without having a battery attached to it,” said Askari. “It is its own power source.”

That makes the device well-suited for applications that put a premium on reliability and where it would be difficult or expensive to replace worn-out batteries.
Askari estimated the sensors – about six centimetres long and one centimetre wide – could be commercially manufactured for $5 to $10 each.

By David Gray | Digital Health Age

Image Credit: David Gray / Digital Health Age

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About Peter Coffaro 524 Articles
A growth-driven and strategic executive, Peter Coffaro commands more than 20 years of progressive management success within the medical device industry. As a District Sales Manager for Stryker Orthopaedics, Peter was responsible for managing and directing a regional sales force to achieve sales and profit goals within the Rocky Mountain region. Previously, he was the Director of Sales & Marketing for Amp Orthopedics. In this role, Peter was responsible for planning, developing, and leading all sales and marketing initiatives. Peter is a former orthopedic distributor in the Pacific Northwest. He has also worked with DePuy Orthopaedics as well as Zimmer, and held positions in sales, sales training, and sales management. Peter has an extensive background in organizational development, business development, sales management, negotiating and P&L management. Peter holds a B.S. degree in Biology from Northern Illinois University.

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