Tyndall’s Wireless Sensor Network group, led by CONNECT-funded investigator Dr Brendan O’Flynn, has been awarded the Bridge Network Invention of the Year award sponsored by PurdyLucey. The invention, Kneehabilitation, was selected from over 60 submissions following interviews with and evaluations by a commercially oriented panel of venture capitalists, entrepeneurs and technology transfer experts.
The knee is the largest, most critical and most complex joint in the body, and the key point of human motion. It is therefore also the most stressed one. When the knee joint is damaged, people experience pain and decreased motion range, making it difficult to perform daily tasks such as sit-to-stand movements, climbing stairs or the most common movement in our life: walking. Even when people undergo surgery, it takes months for the knee to completely rehabilitate.
Informed by, and developed in conjunction with, expert clinical partners in physiotherapy and orthopaedic surgery and sports science, the Kneehabilitation project is focused on delivering a real time ICT oriented approach to monitoring the knee. This is enabled by the use of proprietary Wireless Inertial Measurement Unit (WIMU) technology developed by the Wireless Sensor Network group at Tyndall. The goal of the Kneehabilitation system is to monitor knee health and recovery by extracting kinematic parameters from motion data collected using wearable sensors attached to patients’ legs. These devices enable continuous monitoring of movement in unconstrained environments, simply requiring a Wi-Fi connection and a laptop or mobile device – providing real time information on injury and recovery to the user and their caregiver team of clinicians, physiotherapists and surgeons.
The award was presented to Salvatore Tedesco, Chief Investigator on the Kneehabilitation project representing the WSN group. Mr Tedesco was recently awarded funding from Enterprise Ireland to develop the prototype system further and commercialise it under the Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund. The WSN team will work with industrial design experts 'Design Partners' in Bray to optimise the user experience and ergonomics associated with the prototype which is expected at the end of this project. The team is also working with Anthony Morrissey from UCC's Technology Transfer Office and Tyndall’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Declan O’Mahoney, to commercialise the technology.
The WSN group continues to collaborate in this area with sports scientists (Dr Ed Coughlan, Cork Institute of Technology), orthopedic surgery (Prof. James Harty, Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, UCC) and physiotherapists (Dr Amanda Clifford, Senior Lecturer in Physiotherapy, University of Limerick) to ensure that real world problems are being solved in the area the area of sports science, fitness and health monitoring systems through the use of appropriate ICT enabled systems.