Advanced technologies aid recovery and rehabilitation
In this post, Dr Elena Seminati gives a overview of her work as part of the CAMERA team.
In my research work I’ve been looking how to best adopt new advanced technologies and techniques to aid the recovery and rehabilitation of people with physical impairments. In particular, I’ve focused on the lower-limb amputee population. Leg amputation rates are rising, in part due to the increase in type 2 diabetes mellitus cases, but also due to traumatic injury, such as road accidents.
During postoperative recovery, and for several months after amputation, the residual limb of adults always undergoes substantial changes in shape and volume. This affects an individual’s comfort and confidence when using a prosthetic limb. Therefore, there is a developmental need for residuum volume/shape monitoring and prosthetic liner/socket design.
I’m currently working to develop a novel dataset on residuum volume/shape change by applying a range of advanced optical and laser 3D scanning techniques in combination with residual limb surface pressure monitoring and physical activity assessments. The dataset will include both long-term volumetric tracking over a 36-week period and a series of within day measurements to capture the short-term effect common lifestyle-rehabilitation tasks have on residual limb volume.
Utilising this information my research aims to create prototype socket liners using proprietary soft polymer cryogenic machining techniques, providing more reliable and cheaper solutions for orthotics and prosthetics.
Beyond this, I’m planning to use new motion analysis techniques to assess the efficacy of the new prosthetic devices; monitor gait movements during rehabilitation and detect motion characteristics that may lead to secondary diseases in amputees (e.g. hip/back pain and osteoarthritis and pain).
I work in collaboration with clinical partners and rehabilitation centres (NHS North Bristol Centre for Enablement and DMRC Headley Court) with the final goal to integrate digital capture techniques and computer assisted design technology to improve clinical assessment patients’ wellbeing.