May 25, 2016
New Device Listens For Knee Recovery

At Georgia Tech, researchers are developing a knee band that tracks the knee’s rate of recovery by recording sounds made by the joint.

According to Science Daily, the device uses film that is a vibration sensor, combined with a microphone against the skin. The sound data that the device collects is compared to a joint’s normal range of motion to determine where in the motion the problems arise, as the acoustic pattern for an injured knee is more erratic than that of a healthy one.

Omer Inan, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, said that while he was a discus thrower at Stanford, he noticed his leg creaking more when he put more stress on it. When the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency requested wearable technology that assisted in rehabilitation, Inan pitched his own project, and was pleased when his tests recorded grinding sounds when joints moved.

“It’s a little bit like some kind of Halloween stuff happening,” Inan said. “You’re listening to your bones rubbing on each other, or maybe cartilage.”

The article reported that when athletes or soldiers are too eager to get back into action after knee surgery, they stand the risk of re-injury, which is 10 times greater than the chance of an initial injury, and can potentially develop long-term complications. The device is intended to monitor how the knee is recovering and ensure that patients do not mistakenly believe they have recovered more than they have.

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