Students at the University of Delaware have developed an orthopedic boot with “smart” features that will allow clinicians to monitor patient compliance and provide patients with visual feedback to let them know if they are following the clinician’s instructions for weight bearing. The features incorporated into the boot include force sensors, data processing, data storage, wireless data transmission, and sensory feedback.
Undergraduates Melissa Groome, David Schnall, Michael Schenk, Meg O’Brien, and Timothy West carried out the project for sponsors Jill Higginson, PhD, associate professor of mechanical engineering, and Brian Knarr, PhD, associate scientist in the Delaware Rehabilitation Institute, Newark. The interdisciplinary engineering senior design team received a third-place award for the SmartBoot at the 2015 Summer Biomechanics, Bioengineering, and Biotransport Conference, held June 17-20 in Snowbird, Utah.
“This device brings science to an established technique,” said Higginson. “Patients are often trained in the clinic on a bathroom scale and then sent home with crutches, with the assumption that they can consistently perform partial weight bearing on their own.” However, research conducted by Higginson and Knarr has shown that patients often bear significantly more weight on the injured foot than prescribed, even immediately after training.
Editor’s note: This story was adapted from materials provided by the University of Delaware.