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Cork researchers develop 'smart knee' that could speed up surgery recovery

The device remotely monitors the patient’s progress through a knee movement sensor.

Thomas Healy, Commercial & Research Project Manager, and John Barton, Staff Research Scientist at Tyndall National Institute, with the ‘smart knee’ device.
Thomas Healy, Commercial & Research Project Manager, and John Barton, Staff Research Scientist at Tyndall National Institute, with the ‘smart knee’ device.
Image: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

RESEARCHERS IN CORK have helped produce a new device that could improve and accelerate recovery from knee surgery.

The ‘smart knee’ was developed by scientists at Tyndall National Institute and German-Serbian software SME, Nissatech Innovation Center.

The device, which is attached to the knee during post-operation care, is currently being trialled in a Budapest hospital, and could be on the market in two years if clinicians and patients enjoy the benefits predicted by researchers.

Recuperation from knee surgery, such as arthroscopy or knee replacement, can vary from three months to one year depending on the patient.

Thomas Healy, principal investigator with the Tyndall National Institute, said: “Typically after knee surgeries, patients need to undergo a rehabilitation process to strengthen muscles and regain their mobility. Much of the post-op exercises are expected to take place at home where they cannot be observed by medical staff.

“The ‘smart knee’ system remotely monitors the patient’s progress, through a knee movement sensor developed at Tyndall National Institute, and, based on the progress the patient makes, the rehabilitation programme can be adapted and personalised to the patient.

“The sensor and the data provided to the physician is invaluable in the recovery process, which is the real value of the ‘smart knee’,” Healy said.

Gateone 

The ‘smart knee’ was developed as part of the Gateone project, which encourages small and medium-sized businesses to develop new technologies. It’s funded through the European Horizon 2020 plan, the largest European research fund of its kind, with a fund of €80 billion financing EU research projects over seven years.

Nenad Stojanovic, Nissatech CEO, said the company was “looking for a wearable technology that could be integrated with our software and allow us to measure specific parameters of knee movement”.

This technology will enable us to easily create small but very illustrative prototypes which can demonstrate how our sensor-signal processing software can be used in different scenarios for monitoring human movement.

“The sensor technology can be physically placed on various body parts, opening plenty of possibilities for new monitoring scenarios.”

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Órla Ryan

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