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Curtin Uni Develops Wearable Sensors for Children with Cerebral Palsy

Image Credits: Curtin University, Press Release

New Curtin University research will enable children with cerebral palsy with specially designed wearable sensors. The solution was developed as part of a study that aims to overcome the statistic that these children can spend 96% of their day seated or lying down.

The project, led by Dr Dayna Pool and Professor Catherine Elliott from Curtin’s School of Allied Health and Telethon Kids Institute, was made possible by Federal Government funding of more than AU$1.5 million from the 2021 National Health and Medical Research Council (NHRMC) Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF). It was noted that the sensor would be sensitive enough to pick up even small movements of children with cerebral palsy, which would usually go undetected in other fitness devices.

Cerebral palsy is the most common cause of physical disability in childhood, significantly affecting a child’s ability to move, which leads to reduced physical health and an increased risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, Dr Pool said. There is a need to find better solutions to offer these children the opportunity to move more frequently because it goes a long way to improve their short and long-term health.

The first important starting point is developing an accurate method for sensing movement as many current commercial products are calibrated for neurotypical adults and are not sensitive enough to pick up smaller movements.

Working with children with cerebral palsy and their families across Australia, Professor Elliott said the research team will develop and test wearable sensors that are specifically suitable for children with cerebral palsy.

Professor Elliott said that children with cerebral palsy, their families and health care workers will help to develop and test the wearable sensors in doing so, parents, caregivers and primary health practitioners including physiotherapists will be empowered with the necessary tools to support children with cerebral palsy to have better health outcomes.

Curtin University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Professor Chris Moran commended the team on being awarded funding support from the Federal Government through the NHMRC. He noted that daily movement is important for everyone’s health. This Curtin research is working to make a real difference in the lives of children with cerebral palsy by using technology to help encourage greater physical activity and movement.

The project will bring together research collaborators across Australia, including Curtin University, Telethon Kids Institute, University of Queensland, Child and Adolescent Health Service, the Cerebral Palsy Alliance and the Healthy Strides Foundation.

The global assistive technology market size is expected to increase by US$7.93 billion between 2020 and 2025, expanding at a CAGR of 7.26% during the forecast period. The growth of advanced healthcare facilities, rising healthcare spending, and the presence of government organisations that provide medical aid to people with limited income and financial resources are creating several growth opportunities for vendors operating in the region.

A growing number of orthopaedic and neurological disorders will create significant growth opportunities for market players. However, the high cost of mobility products might reduce the growth potential in the market. Competitors have to focus on differentiating their product offerings with unique value propositions to strengthen their foothold in the market.

There is a significant demand for sensory aids; this can be attributed to the rising focus on manufacturing products in compliance with industrial standards by leveraging advanced technologies. Moreover, the increasing demand for vision and reading aids, especially from the elderly and disabled population is contributing to the growth of the segment.

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