12 February 2015

Robotic sock against deep vein thrombosis

Bedridden and disabled patients are at high risk of developing deep vein thrombosis, a potentially fatal disease caused by the formation of blood clots in the veins of the legs. Researchers from the National University of Singapore have developed a new robotic sock to reduce the risk of developing this disease and improve the survival of such patients.

Equipped with soft power drives, the movements of which resemble the movements of coral tentacles, the robotic sock simulates the natural contractions of the leg muscles, increasing blood circulation in the patient's body. In addition, the device can be used to monitor the movements of the lower leg, which will optimize physiotherapy sessions.

Modern approaches to the prevention of deep vein thrombosis are divided into pharmacological, consisting in the use of anticoagulants, and mechanical, providing stimulation of blood flow due to compression effects.

Pharmacological methods are quite effective, but potentially have a serious side effect. Taking them increases the risk of profuse bleeding, which can lead to the death of patients, especially those who have suffered a hemorrhagic stroke. At the same time, mechanical methods, such as wearing compression stockings, do not significantly reduce the likelihood of developing deep vein thrombosis.

In the search for an effective method of preventing this disease, Associate Professor Lim Jeong Hoon took as a basis the natural role of the human ankle muscles in ensuring the return of venous blood to the heart. To do this, they created soft power drives that stretch and contract like coral tentacles, using these movements to catch prey.

Thanks to the soft power drives built into the compression sock and the use of a programmable air pump valve control system, the device can trigger the desired ankle joint movements that improve blood flow in the lower limb. In addition, the sensors built into it allow you to control the angle of bending of the ankle joint, which is necessary to improve the results of therapy. The use of soft materials in the manufacture of the device increases the comfort of the patient when using it and minimizes the risk of damage due to excessively strong mechanical impact.

The developers of the device, as befits real scientists, tested it on themselves

In March 2015, the researchers plan to start a 6-month pilot clinical trial of a robotic sock involving 30 patients of the National University Clinic. During the study, the developers hope to receive feedback from doctors and patients, which will allow them to improve the design and functionality of their brainchild. After that, they plan to conduct clinical trials in several clinics and commercialize the device in the future.

Evgeniya Ryabtseva
Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru based on the materials of the National University of Singapore:
NUS researchers invent novel bio-inspired robotic sock that promotes blood circulation and prevents blood clots in legs.


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