Over the last few years, advances in the Internet of Things have led to some incredible technological breakthroughs across multiple industries.
Leveraging concepts like advanced condition monitoring with wireless, cloud-based sensors has exploded the volume of information available to businesses and developers of diagnostic technologies. With dynamic monitoring solutions being introduced, this information is broken down into useful analytics that have helped companies save money and time through predictive maintenance, streamlining their processes and improving product quality.
For the medical field, this kind of data collection has the potential to help improve health care and even save lives. By integrating new analytical tools into devices, medical professionals can develop more holistic, personalized treatment plans for their patients.
Improve medical practice with precise motion capture
Parker’s Flexible Displacement Sensor is well suited for multiple medical applications. Thin and flexible, these sensors make for an unobtrusive monitoring solution that can be built into instruments, orthoses, or garments to collect that vital diagnostic data.
Diagnostics and physical rehabilitation go hand-in-hand. In the case of patients who have suffered a stroke or other type of brain injury, they will likely be put on a rehab regimen to help improve and/or restore range-of-motion. Such a treatment usually requires two elements:
- Physical therapy (PT) in an outpatient setting, where the therapist can coach the patient through the motions and monitor progress
- Exercises that the patient must complete at home without a therapist on-hand for coaching or monitoring
While diagnostic devices will not replace the coaching element of PT, they can enable better tracking of the patient’s progress. When built into an orthotic device or sewn into the fabric of a garment, a Flexible Displacement Sensor can monitor a patient’s motion without hindering movement. As the patient walks, bends at the knee or stretches his arm, the sensor takes those measurements and transmits them wirelessly to a mobile device with Parker’s mobile software.
- Accurately track the patient’s progress over time
- Both the patient and the therapist can see the progress whether the patient is in the therapist’s office or at home
- Potentially reduce the patient’s time in the therapist’s office, improving the patient’s quality of life and reducing his expenses
With chronic diseases, like diabetes, a patient may experience lymphedema — swelling that generally occurs in an arm or leg. Treatment usually involves the patient wearing a pressure sock, and it’s important for the doctor to monitor the swelling.
Flexible Displacement Sensors are light, energy-efficient and operate with low power. This allows the sensor to be integrated into a lightweight garment to monitor the degree of compression the fabric is putting out. The sensors utilize electroactive polymer technology, or EAP, which can take accurate, precise readings while being strained over 100% for millions of cycles.
- The sensor can stretch through a fairly significant range of motions without being intrusive
- The sensor can operate for extended periods of time without consuming much energy
Instruments and devices
Devices like portable insulin dispensers can sometimes develop blockages, or occlusions, in their pipes. Being able to detect and address these blockages is vital to ensuring patients receive the necessary dosage of insulin. Any solution must also be very low power, because every bit of power used reduces the length of time the device can be in use before it has to be recharged, or the battery be replaced.
Flexible Displacement Sensors can detect blockages and alert technicians, who can address the issue quickly. Their low power usage accommodates extended use of the device in the patient’s home.
Doctors can use the sensors with specialty products, such as medical beds and wheelchairs, to track the patient’s weight and displacement to help alleviate bedsores. They are also useful for devices that must conform to a patient’s body for comfort, such as orthopedic and/or prosthetic devices.
- Low power usage allows portable medical devices to be used at home for long periods of time
- Allow for more consistently accurate monitoring and diagnostics
- Materials make them safe to use in medical setting
As the technology matures and the market moves, more applications will arise, including monitoring vital factors. In the case of respiration, the patient’s range of motion includes the expansion and contraction of his chest and lower diaphragm. Theoretically, Flexible Displacement Sensors can be used to detect shallow and/or deep breathing, and capture that information for monitoring respiration.
Learn more at MD&M West 2018
To learn more about Parker’s Flexible Displacement Sensors, visit with us during this year’s Medical Device and Manufacturing West (MD&M West) show in Anaheim, CA, February 6 - 8, 2018, booth #2601. Click here for information on how you can get a complimentary show pass.
This post was contributed by Todd Lambert, program manager – medical systems, Parker BioCare Business Unit.