New wearable sensor may improve access to biofeedback for people with incomplete paraplegia: study

Source: Xinhua| 2019-02-20 06:19:42|Editor: Xiaoxia
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CHICAGO, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) -- Researchers at Northwestern University have developed an affordable, wearable-sensor biofeedback platform that allows people with incomplete paraplegia to self-dose this type of self-controllable therapy.

According to a news release posted on NU website Tuesday, the researchers have deployed recent advances in flexible, stretchable electronics to design a wearable electromyography sensor.

The device allows subjects to use movement and muscle activation to control novel smartphone games, also developed by the researchers, making biofeedback easily and constantly available. Data from the new platform, including muscle activity and game performance, is transparently synchronized to a secure cloud database, facilitating monitoring by clinicians and researchers.

The device is adhered to the skin with conductive tape and uses integrated electrodes to record muscle activity. The sensor has wireless charging, Bluetooth connectivity and a nine-axis inertial measurement unit. The battery runs for several days and may be charged wirelessly using inexpensive commercial units.

Data the researchers have collected from intact subjects has shown stable measurements over time. Pilot data from subjects with spinal cord injuries demonstrate that the device has sufficient sensitivity to detect muscle activation and to control the biofeedback games.

Study of the device is ongoing to determine if self-dosed biofeedback can enhance recovery of electromyography activity and other functional outcome measures.

Existing biofeedback therapy devices are expensive and can be operated only by trained personnel in a laboratory environment. These factors prevent many people, up to 50,000 in the United States, from accessing the biofeedback therapy that could benefit their recoveries.

The device is yet to get FDA approval.