Design Engineering
Showcase

Knitted Sensors for Diabetic Smart Socks

Student
Pilar Zhang Qiu
Course
Design Engineering MEng
Supervisor
Dr Rebecca Stewart
Theme
This is Going to Help

As population ages, complications such as diabetic foot ulcers and subsequent lower-limb amputations, become more and more prevalent. This raises an increasing concern about their impact on the, already saturated, healthcare system and calls for comfortable, seamless wearables to assists seniors.

This project aims to develop smart pressure socks for diabetic foot ulcer identification and prevention at home. In particular, this study researches how to create pressure-mapping knitted e-textiles, while also testing their signal quality and properties.

Process

This project explores different lab-knitted e-textiles and their pressure sensing capabilities. The tests performed are directly influenced by insights from interviews with patients and clinicians. Specifically, this research aims to develop a knitted sensor capable of addressing a major diabetic foot concern: detecting acute and prolonged pressures on the top and sides of the feet.

Through signal processing and regression models, a knitted e-textile can acquire pressure sensing capabilities due to its piezoresistive effect.

 — Knitted Sensors for Diabetic Smart Socks
Knitted samples. The grey yarn is a conductive wool blend.
 — Knitted Sensors for Diabetic Smart Socks
Summary of swatches tested. Group A displays variable yarn input tension and Group B employs different colour work patterns.

Outcomes

Results from this novel research show e-textiles have promising potential for the development of assistive wearables for diabetic foot care. Not only does the sensor display great linearity and low hysteresis, but it is also quick to respond and settles after being compressed.

This study opens a new whole world of possibilities for healthcare wearables that are seamless and more comfortable for the patients.

 — Knitted Sensors for Diabetic Smart Socks
Electrode pairs, from which voltage difference is measured.

Comments

Are you able to use the pressure map from under the foot to monitor and assist with balance ? Neuropathy makes static and dynamic balance difficult and this might be addressed using an alternate feedback channel or compensating actuators.

Adrian Godwin

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