Wearable technology rapidly aids recovery in stroke patients

The way in which stroke patients are being treated is set to be revolutionised by a small, white sticking plaster. This wearable technology contains the functionality to monitor health metrics and wirelessly send them directly to health professionals, rapidly speeding up patient’s recovery time.

What will the technology be used for?
A team of US scientists are developing plasters with built-in sensors with a view to allowing therapists to closely monitor the effectiveness of their patient care. The sensors’ monitor numerous health metrics, including but not limited to; speech, swallowing capabilities, movement of upper and lower limbs, and sleep quality.

Lizzy McAninch, a doctor who had a stroke two years ago told BBC News: “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”.

The benefits don’t stop there either, because of the sensors’ wireless capabilities, therapists can not only assess their patients’ progress during sessions, they can also monitor their progress from home, and gain a true understanding of whether or not they’re continuing to use suggested techniques and recommendations without the watchful eye of a medical professional.

“One of the biggest problems we face with stroke patients is that their gains tend to drop off when they leave the hospital,” said Arun Jayaraman, a research scientist and wearable technology expert at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab. “With the home monitoring enabled by these sensors, we can intervene at the right time, which could lead to better, faster recoveries for patients.”

How will the data be presented?
Data collected from the sensors is set to be presented in a user-friendly dashboard that can be used by both clinicians and patients. It will also contain the functionality to send alerts when patients are under or over performing and allow both parties to track progress.

The main challenge scientists and tech developers faced when developing these ‘plasters’ was packing a vast amount of electronics into a small, practical material that’s wearable, comfortable and ultimately non-disruptive to patients.

By the end of 2019, the US research team will have collected more information than ever before on stroke recovery and believe their study could transform the way patients are treated in the future and make a truly positive impact on their lives.

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