User-operated wireless sleeve improves arm recovery following stroke
M-MARK (Mechanical Muscle Activity with Real-time Kinematics) is a system providing upper limb rehab to patients in their own homes. It was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Invention for Innovation (NIHR i4i) Programme and is a collaboration between the University of Southampton, Imperial College London, Maddison (who led the industrial, mechanical and GUI design) and Tactiq (who lead on the electronic assembly, safety testing and CE marking). The system consists of:
- A single-patient multiple-use garment incorporating placement features for the modular sensors.
- Reusable modules containing (IMU) movement and (MMG) muscle-activity sensors.
- A graphical user interface (GUI) for patients and (remote) therapists running on a tablet.
After an initial set-up in which the therapist will personalise the system to the patient by placing MMG sensors over muscles of interest and programming a suitable exercise regime, the patient can use the device unsupervised in their own home by following their prescribed exercise programme (usually two exercise sessions a day).
The patient will put the garment on by themselves or with help from a carer, with the modules already attached. The modules and the laptop/tablet based app will then interact to lead the patient through the exercise routine and give them appropriate and motivating feedback based on their performance of the exercises and tasks.
The therapist can use the system to benchmark a patient’s condition at an initial assessment and then track recovery over time. They will review compliance and performance remotely to give the patient on-going support and adjust the exercise regime. The exercises are based on everyday activities and carefully chosen to promote strength and restore function.
M-Mark aims to promote patient independence and resilience, helping them to become more involved and in-control of their rehabilitation.
Jane Burridge, Professor of Restorative Neuroscience at Southampton, says: “About 150,000 people in the UK have a stroke each year and, despite improvements in acute care that results in better survival rates, about 60 per cent of people with moderate to severe strokes fail to recover useful function of their arm and hand.
“Stroke rehabilitation is increasingly home-based, as patients are often discharged from hospital after only a few days. This policy encourages independence and avoids problems associated with prolonged hospital stays. However, some patients struggle to carry out the exercises and they may question whether what they are doing is correct. Similarly therapists don’t have objective measurements about their patients’ muscle activity or ability to move. Rehabilitation technologies like our sleeve will address problems faced by both patients and therapists.”
In this project we have focused on one application of M-Mark technology, but we intend to develop it to cover lower limb rehab and think it could become a platform to support a wide range of rehabilitation programmes.
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