SYDNEY, April 9 (Xinhua) -- In remote parts of Australia it can take patients hours or even days to see a doctor, and the lengthy journeys can often prove expensive and difficult for those seeking treatment.
While video consultations have become common practice in rural areas, online doctor's appointments are still considered less effective, especially in medical fields like physiotherapy where physicians must closely observe the subtle differences in a patient's movements.
That's why Deepti Aggarwal at The University of Melbourne has developed "smart socks," a groundbreaking wearable technology that will provide more insight for physiotherapists who treat their patients remotely.
"My invention helps them do this by providing valuable insights on patients undergoing lower limb rehabilitation, capturing information on weight distribution, range of foot movement, and foot orientation," Aggarwal said on Monday.
The technology, known as SoPhy, has three information sensors built into the socks and is able to send patient data to physiotherapists through a web-interface in real time.
"SoPhy can became a shared language to discuss the patient's recovery over time and to plan new therapy goals, and enhanced the doctor-patient communication," Aggarwal said.
After a success trail of the technology last year, Aggarwal said many physiotherapists were also keen to use the system both for video and face-to-face consultations.
At the moment the high-tech socks cost around 230 U.S. dollars to produce and are not current available for purchase.
However Aggarwal remains hopeful that companies will soon come on board to develop smart socks and further reduce the price.
She also plans to expand the device to treat other groups of patients such as pregnant women.
But while advancements in remote medical consultations are extremely promising, the creator herself warns that technologies like SoPhy are not a replacement for face-to-face consultations.
"They're the next-best solution to support patients in critical situations such as those with severe pain and mobility issues," Aggarwal said.