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Electronic Sensing for the Prophylaxis of Lower Limb Pathologies

INESC TEC develops wearable equipment which can obtain information on human locomotion to help physicians prescribe the most suitable therapy.

The ProLimb project aims at developing and implementing a wearable electronic system that can capture information associated to human locomotion in a comfortable and non-invasive mode, even for people with serious disabilities and physical impairments. It must also be simple to manipulate and non-harmful for the patient. The system should be preferably used as a garment and functionally autonomous, making it possible to monitor the most relevant quantities, not only in clinical or lab environment, but also in the daily life of the patient, with minimal interference and discomfort.

The quantities to be captured include linear and angular movements of the lower limbs, as well as the myoelectric signals observed on the surface of the thighs and legs. Observing these quantities makes it possible to conduct a multifactorial analysis of locomotion and, consequently, to make a more accurate diagnosis and understand the role of different factors in the pathology. The pathophysiological profile can be obtained to synthetically represent the relative importance of different factors in the movement of an individual.  This procedure can help physicians decide which is the best course of therapy for each patient.

The ProLimb project addresses this problem following a holistic approach, made possible from the involvement of research groups with a strong activity in the domains of textile engineering, microelectronics design and testing, and signal processing, in collaboration with physicians, in order to produce a wearable sensor network for capturing and monitoring locomotion information  in the patients’  lower limbs.

Project leader: José A. P. Machado da Silva

• Centro de Ciência e Tecnologia Têxtil / UMinho (CCTT/UM)

Financial support:

European funds: ERDF - European Regional Development Fund - through the COMPETE Programme (operational programme for competitiveness). National funds: FCT – Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology) as part of project PTDC/EEA-ELC/103683/ 2008

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