Winner of the Snowdon Award for Disability Projects.
An intelligent and supportive rehabilitative brace that limits harmful knee movement while the knee is healing after injury or surgery
Every six minutes a cruciate ligament is torn. More than 90,000 anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries happen every year. The common treatment is an invasive operation followed by extensive physiotherapy. During the healing process, patients’ knees are fixed in a medical device (knee brace) for at least one month after the operation. However, the existing knee brace design is too rigid and complicated.
Design investigation started with various theories about possible therapy after an ACL injury. Then the study extended from one medical device to a holistic way of preventing, supporting and healing knee-related problems. It also defined that to benefit all people it needs to provide information related to knee protection to prevent people from overusing their knees or, for older people, to abate arthritic pain. This project identified the main issue concerning the healing process and how to transform subjective feelings into measurable facts and enable information to be exchanged between patients and doctors.
Kneetronic is designed for people of all ages that need support after a knee injury or have long-term knee pain. It also acts as a communication device between patients and doctors about how healing is progressing. The user research was divided into two: medical experts and end users. Orthopaedic surgeons, technicians and physiotherapists informed the design process describing different aspects of the knee healing procedure when using knee braces.
The new design of the knee brace is called kneetronic. It is a communication tool that stores information about the knee’s movement and informs both patients and doctors how healing is progressing. Different sensors embraced in flexible material combine with an easy-to-operate system, allowing patients to control the healing of their knee.