Smart insole designed to correct gait problems


November 13, 2012

A prototype of the Rapid Rehab insole

A prototype of the Rapid Rehab insole

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People who have received an artificial leg, had a hip replacement, or who are recovering from a broken leg all want to avoid one thing – developing a limp. Not only will it limit their mobility and increase the risk of falls, but it can also lead to problems such as osteoarthritis. That’s why University of Utah mechanical engineer Prof. Stacy Bamberg is developing the Rapid Rehab system – it’s a “smart” insole paired to a smartphone app, designed to provide users with feedback on how they walk.

The gel insole incorporates two force-sensitive resistors, that measure pressure when the patient’s foot is on the ground. It also contains an accelerometer for detecting leg movement, and a gyroscope for determining the angle and position of the foot.

Data from all of those sensors is wirelessly transmitted to a smartphone, that uses a custom app to create a real-time profile of the patient’s gait. It will note any problems with their walking pattern, then advise them (or a clinician) via their choice of instantaneous visual, audio or sensory feedback.

Prof. Stacy Bamberg with a Rapid Rehab prototype

According to the university, Rapid Rehab has some advantages over alternative forms of gait analysis. It can be used anywhere at any time, for instance, unlike a laboratory analysis. It also reportedly provides more objective feedback than can be obtained from a physical therapist, and allows patients to monitor themselves.

Bamberg is currently on sabbatical to commercially develop the system, via University of Utah spin-off company Veristride. She hopes to have a finished product ready to go within a few years, and estimates that it will sell for around US$500.

Source: University of Utah

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Hey people! Go barefoot first. It is the shoes that shackle you!

Facebook User

I had a motorcycle accident that left my left leg shattered in 25 pieces below the knee. I could really use something like this insole to leave me with as normal a gait as possible. I wish Dr. Stacy luck in getting this made and deployed.

Kevin James
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