Advances in wearable sensor technology are offering new possibilities for improving health outcomes, particularly for those at risk of mobility limitations later in life. Loss of mobility is a common issue associated with aging, leading to difficulties in walking, balance problems, muscle weakness, and knee pain. Chronic knee pain affects at least one in four adults in the United States, and knee arthritis rates have doubled since 1940.
Monitoring knee motion in day-to-day life could help experts diagnose complications and improve knee health outcomes. However, traditional monitoring methods require lab-based observation, which many individuals do not have the time for. This is where wearable sensor technology comes in.
Wearable systems are textiles equipped with stretchable circuitry that collect data. They function as flexible, wearable computing devices and are commonly used for fitness applications, such as monitoring heart rate, caloric output, and sleep patterns. These systems are similar to advanced smartwatches but without a user interface.
Researchers like Gupta et al. have applied this technology to develop wearable sensors specifically for knee health monitoring. They designed a self-contained wearable sensor knee brace with circuitry woven into the fabric itself. The highly stretchable textile includes electrically conductive and dielectric yarn of high elasticity. The sensor collects data on knee motion during various activities like walking, jogging, running, and steps. It also monitors the knee joint&https://adarima.org/?aHR0cHM6Ly9tY3J5cHRvLmNsdWIvY2F0ZWdvcnJ5Lz93cHNhZmVsaW5rPW9kR0RaRTYxVzN3QXBic0NhZGZFZUZsZ2lIbmlrTWpGblRYTkJibVpJZEU1NVMyMTBka1JXY0hsamR6MDk-8217;s angle and ensures healthy interaction between the lower and upper leg. The data collected is transmitted in real-time to a Bluetooth-connected smart device and can be further analyzed by healthcare professionals.
Early detection and treatment of knee issues can significantly improve health outcomes over time, even if there are no direct treatments for conditions like knee arthritis. Similar to hearing damage caused by exposure to loud environments, once the knee joint and surrounding areas are extensively damaged, it becomes challenging to address the issues without a total replacement. Regular use of a stabilizing brace and physical therapy can help reduce knee damage over time, making early detection crucial for those at risk.
Wearable sensor technologies, like those developed by Gupta et al., can also be utilized in rehabilitation settings to monitor progress for joint movement, range of motion, and muscle activity. They can contribute to improving techniques, efficiency, and injury prevention in sports that exert significant pressure on the knees, such as basketball.
As wearable technology continues to advance, there are areas that can be improved, such as battery life, which should be maximized to reduce responsibility for the wearer, and cost, as the technology may currently be too expensive for the average consumer. However, the potential to monitor mobility and improve health conditions later in life is promising.
Furthermore, wearable systems may extend beyond knee monitoring to address other problematic regions of the body associated with aging, such as the ankles, wrists, back, or neck. As long as the sensors do not impede regular day-to-day activities, they have the potential to greatly enhance our ability to monitor and maintain mobility in older age, benefiting the health and well-being of many individuals.
Overall, wearable sensor technology is a rapidly evolving field with vast potential in healthcare. With continued advancements, we can expect to see more innovative solutions and applications that can help individuals maintain their mobility and overall health as they age.