Hemiparesis, or one-sided partial paralysis, is commonly caused by stroke or an accident resulting in damage to the brain but can occur as a congenital condition due to neurological disorders. The symptoms vary a great deal; motor function is particularly affected, restricted by some degree of paralysis in the arm, hand, hip, leg, or foot on one side. Those affected are dependent on regular therapy and assistance programs to maintain and improve motor function, particularly in everyday life.
TheraTex, an application-oriented and transdisciplinary research project, is addressing the specific requirements of hemiparesis patients. The use of smart textiles—functional garments equipped with sensors—opens up new therapeutic approaches. The goal of the project is the development of a real-time analysis and feedback system in the form of a new e-textile.
Innovative sensors in the fabric record the mobility, muscle condition, and posture of patients. The data is collected and analysed during everyday activities to give patients individual, situation-specific and real-time feedback delivered as reminders to, for example, correct their posture or use the affected arm.
The smart garment provides both soft and tactile feedback to the body directly through sensors and small motors, and audio feedback as well. Therapists can evaluate and apply the data to develop individualised training programs that can then be optimised with the help of the e-textile.
ART+COM’s role in the project is to create an intuitive user interface for the e-textile to facilitate a successful user experience, as well as being responsible for sensor data evaluation and implementation into the overall system.
The development and realisation of a prototype is a collaborative effort being undertaken by weißensee kunsthochschule berlin, Strickmanufaktur Zella, rehamed-tec, Fraunhofer ISC, TU Berlin, Valitech GmbH & Co.KG and hemiparesis patients at Medical Park Humboldtmühle.
TheraTex is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of futureTEX – “Twenty20 – Partnership for Innovation.”