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How to help heal an injured joint
Date:3/18/2011

This press release is available in German.

There's nothing like the sheer delight of sun and snow on a skiing trip. But a momentary lapse of concentration can have nasty consequences. Taking a tumble on the slopes often causes injuries most commonly to the knee. Weeks can go by before knees regain their full function, and patients are obliged to re-learn how to walk. The time it takes for the knee to heal is directly related to how well it reacts to the chosen treatment. But how is an orthopedic doctor to evaluate the healing process? And how are patients to know what progress they are making? Currently, doctors can only perform limited function tests, whilst patients are obliged to rely on their own subjective feelings. Now researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA in Stuttgart have developed a system for gathering exact data on knee mobility. It shows patients as well as medical staff how the joint is doing. "It not only lets sufferers see how their healing process is coming along; it also means doctors can tell straight away whether they need to adapt the treatment," says Dipl.-Ing. Bernhard Kleiner of Fraunhofer IPA. "This can give patients a psychological boost." They might not feel they are getting any better, but the system highlights every little improvement in knee mobility. "And that's very motivating," says Kleiner.

This is how the novel approach for monitoring the treatment works: Special sensors are placed in a kind of bracket that is integrated into the bandage. These register the knee's range of movement over a period of time to determine exactly how patients are moving their knee. A new piece of software evaluates these data and presents them in an easy-to-understand format. It sounds pretty simple but it was a tough challenge for the engineers, because such angular measurement systems have o
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Contact: Bernhard Kleiner
bernhard.kleiner@ipa.fraunhofer.de
49-711-970-3718
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert

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