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article imageWearable device developed for stroke treatment

By Tim Sandle     Feb 19, 2018 in Science
A new type of wearable device has been designed to assist people recovering from stakes. The device a sensor that measures speech and swallowing patterns and it has been designed by Shirley Ryan AbilityLab and Northwestern University.
The new wearable could change the approach taken by medics to stroke rehabilitation. The device comes from an idea proposed by Northwestern University Professor John A. Rogers, who worked with the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab (a research hospital in Chicago).
The device is the latest is stretchable electronics and it is intended to be worn either inside or away from the hospital setting. The device is the latest concept from Professor Rogers’ research into stretchable and soft electronics. Other devices, which fix directly to the surface of the skin, from the researcher assess heart function, muscle activity and quality of sleep
The new sensor is a bandage-like throat sensor measures patients’ swallowing ability and patterns, moving with the body and providing detailed health metrics.. The sensors assist with the diagnosis and treatment of aphasia; this is a communication disorder connected with stroke.
The traditional way to assess the communication complications following a stroke is through the use of microphones. However, these devices tend to have problems differentiating between patients’ voices and ambient noise.
Discussing the advantages of his new device, Professor Rogers said: “Our sensors solve that problem by measuring vibrations of the vocal cords.”
However, the scientist adds: “they only work when worn directly on the throat, which is a very sensitive area of the skin. We developed novel materials for this sensor that bend and stretch with the body, minimizing discomfort to patients.”
The throat sensor can be used in conjunction with electronic biosensors fitted to the legs, arms and chest of a stroke patient. All of the collected data helps to monitor stroke patients’ recovery progress. The data from each of the sensors is sent wirelessly to which ever device a clinician wishes to use, such as a tablet for smartphone, with the responses displayed on a dashboard.
Here the clinician can assess physical and physiological responses using real-time metrics. The wireless technology is one of the factors that allows a patient to return to their home earlier than is possible using conventional assessments.
The research into the new wearable has been presented at a scientific session at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Austin, Texas.
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