University of Wisconsin’s Darryl Thelen and Jack Martin have developed a noninvasive approach to measuring tendon tension while a person is active.
Current wearables can measure movement, but not muscle force.
The technology provides insight into motor control and human movement mechanics, and can be applied in orthopedics, rehabilitation, ergonomics, and sports.
The device is mounted on skin over a tendon, lightly tapping it 50 times per second. Each tap initiates a wave in the tendon, and two miniature accelerometers determine how quickly it travels. This assesses force via vibrational characteristics of the tendon change during loading. Tensile stress is then measured.
It has been used to measure forces on the Achilles tendon, patellar and hamstring tendons. Changes were observed when gait was modified, which can enable clinicians to optimize the treatment of musculoskeletal disease and injuries. It may also be useful to determine when a repaired tendon is healed.
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