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Executive Department for
Press, Communication and Marketing

Adolf-Reichwein-Straße 2a
Gebäude AVZ (Gebäudeteil AR-NA)
57068 Siegen

Phone:    +49 (0)271/740-4915
Fax.:    +49 (0)271/740-4911
E-Mail:  presse@uni-siegen.de

Sensor Technology for Therapy Success

Scientists of the University of Siegen work together with the DRK-Kinderklinik on a sensor based support system of physiotherapy according to "Vojta". The research project "SenseVojta" is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

Patients with disorders of the central nervous system and of the posture and movement apparatus can benefit from physiotherapy according to the "Vojta principle": Movement patterns become available through the so-called reflex locomotion, i.e. the targeted pressure on certain body zones. Especially in infants the therapy can significantly improve the motor skills - provided that the exercises are carried out regularly and correctly by parents at home. Researchers from the Institute of Advanced Studies (FoKoS) at the University of Siegen are now developing a sensory-based assistance system for Vojta therapy. They also cooperate with the Siegen DRK (Red Cross- translator’s note) Children's Clinic, the seat of the global Center for Vojta Therapy.

"The doctors and physiotherapists are very dependent on the parent’s cooperation during a Vojta therapy", explains project leader Prof. Dr. Rainer Brück from the "Chair for Medical Computer Science and Microsystem Design" at the University of Siegen. "The therapy is successful only if they carry out the movements with their children several times a day, and above all in a precise manner." However, parents are often uncertain or too careful. In addition, small children are often crying or screaming because of physical exertion during the exercises. "This is a great challenge for the parents. Within the framework of our research project, we want to develop a system that both supports them and secures the therapeutic success."

In the future, sensors will recognize whether the exercises are carried out correctly in the course of the therapy. The system must be practical and affordable, according to Brück. For example, the children could conceivably wear a bracelet during the exercises: "The sensors conduct movements from muscle tension in the joint. The data could be transferred directly to the parents' smartphone. If a movement is not carried out correctly, the feedback received will inform them, for example in the form of an acoustic signal. "At the same time, the system could document the course of the therapy. Doctors and physiotherapists would gain valuable information, such as progress or possible problems during therapy.

For each patient, an individual motion profile would first have to be created. For this purpose, a 3D camera system is to be installed in the therapy center of the DRK-Kinderklinik, which can track and analyze human movements. Even before the official launch of the project, the researchers were allowed to attend Vojta meetings at the clinic. "We have already done first camera shots," says Brück. "The cooperation will be even more intense in the future. Within the scope of the project, we would also like to win patients who test our technology during development and give us feedback."

The aim of the research project is to develop a prototype of the therapy assistance system within three years. For this purpose, researchers from different areas will work closely together at the university: Prof. Brück, together with his team, is working on the development of sensor hardware. The "Institute for Pattern Recognition", headed by Prof. Dr. Marcin Grzegorzek also explores how movement patterns in the collected data can be identified and evaluated. The "Center for Responsible Innovation & Design" by FoKoS Director Prof. Dr. Dr. Björn Niehaves will accompany the project partners over the entire development period on ethical issues. It advises, among other things, on topics such as "data protection" or "personality rights".

Background:

The research project "SenseVojta" (Fkz. 13GW0166E) has been designed to run for three years. In addition to the DRK-Kinderklinik and the University of Siegen, three companies are also involved. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research is funding the joint project of 2.1 million euros, of which 720,000 euros will go to the University of Siegen and about 260,000 euros to the Siegen Kinderklinik.

Contact Person:
Prof. Dr. Rainer Brück (project leader) Tel: +49-271-740-3855, mail rainer.brueck@uni-siegen.de