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How Can Wearable Tech Help Stroke Patients?

Mar 22 2018 Read 6638 Times

For most people, the term "wearable tech" conjures up images of flashy Apple Watches and colourful Fitbits. Now, a team of scientists is taking wearable tech to the next level with devices that claim to speed up the post-stroke recovery process.

Basically, the devices are equipped with sensors that send data directly to doctors. According to the team this empowers therapists with the scope to closely monitor both care and progress, as well as pinpoint any issues.

Empowering doctors with data

The technology is currently being trialled on patients like Lizzy McAninch, who were not able to speak or swallow for several weeks after suffering from a stroke. While the device looks relatively simple, the small white sticking plasters relay real time wireless information to her medical team. As a trained doctor, she knows just how valuable the data could be.

"This technology to put sensors on the body to assess which muscle groups work or not can really pinpoint the areas affected by the stroke and can target therapies to specifically improve those issues," explained McAninch in an interview with BBC News.

The sensors continue to track and relay data after therapy sessions have finished which helps to form a holistic overview of progress. This offers therapists a window into whether patients are adhering to recommendations and if any changes or tweaks need to be made.

"Imperceptible" wearable tech

One of the biggest challenges was designing a device that doesn't hinder everyday movement. John Rogers, a scientist at Chicago's Northwestern University was up to the task. While his device is "almost mechanically imperceptible to the patient" it's powerful enough to support advanced sensor functionality and microprocessor computing capability. It's also equipped with its own power supplies and Wi-Fi connectivity.

Currently, the UK alone records more than 100,000 strokes a year. This equates to approximately one stroke every five minutes. For those who survive, almost two thirds leave hospital with a disability, which costs the NHS around £1.7 billion a year. As well as fast-tracking recovery, purpose built wearable tech could help to push down the national cost of stroke.

Technology is quickly emerging as a powerful tool for modern laboratories. For an in-depth look at the revolution don't miss 'The Internet of Laboratory Equipment'. It explores the concept of seamless connectivity, and what this could mean for contemporary science.  

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