Assessment of Fall Prevention
Apart from cardio-vascular diseases and cancer, falls in the elderly are the leading cause of death in the elderly. Rapid technological progress has made small affordable sensors available, which can help to assess the risk of falls in the elderly.
With this project, which is funded by the Center for Technological Innovation in Medicine (TIMed-Center) of the University of Applied Sciences, Upper Austria, we want to establish how well paedo-barographic signals, obtained from a patient with an amputation of the leg, correlate with the signals from inertial sensors.
This project is also supported by Otto Bock Healthcare Products, which provides us with access to the all the sensory signals provided by sensors in state-of-the-art leg prostheses, and by the Sportinstitut Jansenberger, the leading training center for fall prevention in the German-speaking area.
FeeL – Sensory Feedback for Leg Prosthesis
The execution of complex movements, as they occur in everyday life in a variety of ways, is based on a sophisticated control loop, with a feed-forward initialization of the movements, and a feedback-based control of the movement. In the case of persons with amputations, the feedback of the movement apparatus is interrupted, and the movement is therefore less precise. Hence, many lower-limb amputees have problems walking naturally and efficiently on ramps, stairways or uneven terrain such as meadows or gravels naturally and efficiently. The result is a markedly increased fall incidence in people with amputations of the lower extremities, as well as movement disorders, which often lead to chronic pain.
Within FeeL, the aim is to investigate how the closure of this control loop with a technical replacement of the pressure feedback from the sole of the foot has the effect on the stability and dynamics of movements of amputees as well as on pain related to the amputation. For this purpose, a vibro-tactile feedback system has to be developed that measures the pressure between the prosthetic foot and the ground and stimulates the stump of the amputee with vibrators.In order to make the feeling of feedback more natural, the suitability of Targeted Sensory Reinnervation on the lower limb will be investigated. Thereby an afferent sensory nerve that originally innervated the one part of the sole of the foot is dissected, and connected to a skin nerve from the stump. This newly innervated skin area can then be used to stimulate the sural nerve and thus can pass information from the prosthetic foot onto the foot area in the somatosensory cortex. Thus, the feedback is more authentic for the user. To Acive the goals of the Project we collaborate with the Medical University Vienna, the Orthopedic Hospital Speising and Otto Bock Healthcare Products.
Our Prothestics Group focusses on pain problems prostheses wearers are experiencing, and on prosthetic devices for the upper extremities.
FIM – Fitness In Motion
Causal relationship between physical activity and prevention of several diseases has been known for some time. Recently, attempts to quantify dose-response relationship between physical activity and health show that automatic tracking and quantification of the exercise efforts not only help in motivating people but improve health conditions as well. However, no commercial devices are available for weight training and calisthenics. Within this project we collaborate with researchers from the University of Brescia to overcome this limit, exploiting machine learning techniques for analyzing data coming from wearable inertial measurement units, and classifying/counting such exercises.
Diagnostic Devices for Sensory Systems
Corneal Surface of the Eye
To correct for visual deficits, it is possible to reshape the cornea through the use of lasers (LASIK). This often leads to spectacular improvements of visual accuracy. However, in some patient this effect decreases over time. To better understand these developments, we use image processing techniques to automatically determine the thickness of the corneal epithelium.
These tests not only show which information can be obtained from modern recording technologies. They may also help us to understand which factors are relevant for the visual assessment of other people, and how our brain reaches it impressions.