UCLA researchers in the Department of Bioengineering have developed a wearable sensory feedback system that provides instructive tactile feedback to guide the user towards biomechanical gait improvements, based on real-time motion analysis derived from wearable sensor data.
The current standard of care for neurological, musculoskeletal, and orthopedic rehabilitation is physical therapy, predominantly using prescribed exercises with supervision and manual physical assistance from a trained physical therapist. However, this form of therapy relies heavily on the training and visual observation of the physical therapist, and does not provide the physical therapist with sensitive, reliable, quantifiable, or digital means of measuring, analyzing, recording, or tracking a patient’s gait in real time. In addition, physical therapy is applied very inconsistently across the patient population, as its effectiveness depends heavily on both the training of the physical therapist and the dedication and persistence of the patient.
Researchers at UCLA have developed a wearable sensory feedback system, which combines real-time gait analysis via fully wearable sensors with time-discrete instructive feedback designed specifically to correct specific features of gait. Based on real-time motion analysis derived from the sensor data, this system is able to guide users to achieve a more symmetrical or better-aligned gait. This system can improve the effectiveness of physical therapy by providing physical therapist more quantitative tools to assess and guide patients in real time. It could also improve patient participation and compliance by giving feedback that reinforces positive changes and discourage negative ones in real-time. This wearable feedback system can be used by patient in the absence of direct physical therapist oversight, thereby expanding the access of patient to high-quality gait coaching.
Sensory feedback system, tactile feedback, gait improvement, wearable, sensor, medical device, gait rehabilitation, musculoskeletal, orthopedic, physical therapy