A MATCHBOX sized motion tracker designed by university engineers to improve treatment for movement disorders and rehabilitation after surgery, is already boosting the performance of the most unlikely patients — race horses and golfers.
Unlike other motion tracking systems which record steps, heart rate, sleepand calories, the BioKin can pinpoint movement of limbs to the millimetre.
The 20g device is strapped to the limb of interest, such as the hands of people recovering from wrist surgery or the legs of children with cerebral palsy.
The 10 wireless sensors in the device — developed over three years at Deakin University’s School of Engineering — capture the smallest movement and translate it into useful measures that are sent straight to the patient’s clinician or coach via an app.
Associate Professor Pubudu Pathirana said he hoped the low-cost device would allow more patients to complete their rehabilitation at home under this remote supervision.
“It’s a cheaper and easier alternative, especially for those outside the city, to have their progress measured in real time,” he said.
“We haven’t been able to capture movements in a subjective way; there is discrepancy from clinician to clinician.
“But this can promote a universal measure so doctors can know if the patient is improving or not more accurately.”
The device is being trialled in people with Parkinson’s and movement disorder cerebral ataxia, alongside those recovering from shoulder and wrist injuries at University Hospital Geelong. As they wait to conduct further clinical trials, which are needed to register BioKin as a medical device, Prof Pathirana said it had attracted outside interest.
A horse trainer has bought one to assess its range of movement. One of the Deakin engineering team members is already using it to improve his green-side bunker shot.
“We’re open to collaborating with others, because we want to enhance the spectrum of conditions that it covers,” he said. “If people have ideas for different features or tests, then we don’t need to change the device, we just use the software to extract that feature.”
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