Impact: 'Clothing' that senses movement to prevent injuries, improve comfort and deliver therapy
Responsive clothing is the new frontier of sports and health technology, with UOW researchers leading the way in solutions that prevent injury and improve comfort.
The Intelligent Knee Sleeve, the Bionic Bra and the Lymph Sleeve are three standout examples of cutting-edge ‘wearable technologies’ developed via collaborations among biomechanics researchers, material scientists, chemists, mechatronic engineers, clinicians, patients and industry.
As well as offering promise for preventing injuries – particularly in sport-related endeavours – these technologies also seek to facilitate medical treatment and recovery.
The Intelligent Knee Sleeve is an innovative device that provides immediate, individualised feedback to athletes or patients, alerting them as to whether or not they are using appropriate knee joint motion when training and playing sports or undertaking rehabilitation exercises.
The device is based on an electronic fabric strip that is capable of providing quantitative information and direct instantaneous feedback to the wearer without impeding their natural movement.
The Bionic Bra is the world’s first responsive bra that senses changes in a woman’s breast motion and automatically tightens to provide her with vital breast support, when it is needed.
It seeks to provide a smart, individualised solution for women who refrain from physical exercise due to the pain or discomfort breast motion causes during exercise.
Currently in prototype development, the enormous potential of the Bionic Bra for social and health outcomes has attracted substantial funding, partnerships and media coverage.
The Lymph Sleeve has the potential to transform the lives of women who suffer from breast cancer-related lymphoedema – a chronic, painful and progressive pathological condition that arises from damage sustained during treatment for breast cancer. Current treatment options involve extensive allied health visits that are expensive and require the patient to remain motionless during treatment.
The Lymph Sleeve incorporates ‘artificial muscle’ technology into a wearable compression garment that gently massages the affected areas, mimicking normal lymphatic massage techniques and relieving lymphatic flow.
It is the first wearable device that will allow women to receive treatment for breast cancer-related lymphoedema while they continue to perform activities of daily living.
The impact of these ‘wearable technologies’ being developed at UOW is twofold. Firstly, they are set to make a huge difference in the lives of people susceptible to injury or suffering from illness, and secondly, they have the ability to boost the knowledge economy by sparking niche, high-value, manufacturing industries.
Professor Julie Steele
Professor Geoff Spinks
Professor Gordon Wallace
Dr Sheridan Gho
Dr Michael Weaver
Dr Sina Naficy
Professor Gursel Alici
Associate Professor Peter Innis
Dr Toni Campbell
Dr Stephen Beirne
Professor Don Iverson
Professor Philip Clingan
Dr Javad Foroughi