The Project

Smart Tip for Gait Functional Diagnosis in Multiple Sclerosis Patients (DPI2017-82694-R)

Objectives

This project focuses on the development of an intelligent tip for the monitoring and diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients. The data adquired by this device is intended to be used for diagnosis purposes, offering objective data that can be used to optimize and adapt the rehabilitation therapy to the particular state of each patient, which will lead to the improvement of his/her life quality. MS is one of the neurological diseases with more impact in society (40000 patients in Spain), due to: 1) the average incidence age is 30 years; 2) it is a degenerative disease with no cure; and 3) the cost per patient ratio is one of the highest among the neurological diseases.

In recent years it has been demonstrated that an appropriate rehabilitation therapy can improve the life quality of patients, reducing the effect of MS sequels (weariness, loss of strenght) and the physical and neurological deterioration. However, in order to design an adequate treatment, a proper patient diagnosis, this is, determining the current patient state, is mandatory. In the rehabilitation area, current diagnosis approaches are based on the subjective perception of the therapist. The used Clinical Scales present some issues, such as subjectivity and lack of sensitivity. Moreover, they do not take into account the daily activities of the patient. The use of technological devices is seen as a solution to these issues, as the use of physical or virtual sensors, estimators, intelligent data processing or artificial intelligence can provide objective data that the therapists can use to evaluate the functional state of the patient and define proper rehabilitation exercises.

The multidisciplinar research team combines both technical know-how in mechatronics and intelligent diagnosis, and clinical expertise in neurorehabilitation and functional evaluation. The team has been collaborating since 2016, and it has the support of the MS association of Bizkaia, ADEMBI, for this project.

OBJECTIVES

O1. Design an innovation low-cost Smart Tip that can be adapted to any crutch or walking stick, able to monitor the patient inside and outside clinical environtment.

O2. Design and integrate an intelligent diagnosis system that, based on the monitorized data, provides objective indicators that can be used to characterize the functionality of the patient's gait, to quantify his/her phisical activity (walking fast or slow, going up/down stairs, being still), allowing to evaluate the state of the patient and monitoring of the patient's evolution.

O3. Clinically validation of the innovation system in Multiple Sclerosis patients.

Achievements

This project has focused on MS patients that require a crutch or walking stik to move. The contributions obtained have been:

  • A Smart Tip design that can be adapted to any crutch or walking stick, able to monitor the patient inside the clinic and in his/her daily life activities.
  • An intelligent diagnosis system that, based on the monitorized data provides objective indicators that can be used to evaluate the state of the patient.
  • Clinically validation of the proposed system in three study cases associated to MS patients: the quantification of the physical activity, the estimation of the functional state of the patient and the characterization of the use of the crutch/walking stick (support or equilibrium cases).

Acknowledgements

  • Ministry of Spanish Science and Innovation, DPI2017-82694R
  • ADEMBI (Asociación de Esclerosis Múltiple Bizkaia)
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