healing boot

When you’re prescribed medication by a doctor, there’s a certain specificity involved. Take two pills, three times-per-day for eight days. Take with food. Do not take if you have the following... 

With certain ailments, like orthopedic injuries, how do you know you’re healing? What kind of data do you have? One Senior Design team thinks they can provide some by retrofitting a common orthopedic boot. 

After years of stress from playing basketball in high school, Tom Murphy (BioE) found himself getting microfracture knee surgery. 

“After the surgeries, the doctor said I had to keep weight off it for three weeks,” Murphy said. “Using crutches, I was supposed to get progressively better until I was able to walk on it. I didn’t really have a good method to gauge how much weight to put on it. We had to be meticulous with it.”

Working with adviser Dr. Michel Lemay, professor of Bioengineering, and another adviser from the School of Podiatry, the team of Bioengineering majors started with a boot like what Murphy used for his recovery. They applied sensors and custom-designed circuits to enable a user to track unilateral weight bearing of an injured leg during their recovery process, in real time. 

The data is decoded and fed to the user to track and monitor via a common Raspberry Pi. By tracking this data in a mobile app, patients can more closely follow their prescribed recovery plan and allow for both a faster and complete recovery.

“A patient can see that they’re putting the pounds and percentage of their total weight. Their physical therapist can help them target the amount of weight they should be putting down and the app would give them a simple way to do so,” Murphy added. 

Part of Senior Design, besides the retrofitting the boot and thinking of the end-user and design, was figuring how to reach their goals between the five busy team member’s (and their advisers’) changing schedules. 

“We can only find small chunks every week where we’re all available. We’ve almost always had someone Skyping in,” Eshan Patel (BioE) added. “There’s a lot of trust we have in each other to relay the correct information.” 

Or, as one team member Chinmay Chafale (BioE) added: “we had to find a way.” 

That flexibility has helped the team make progress leading up to their presentation this week, with early tests measuring sensor sensitivity along with voltage increases and corresponding force increases. 

See the team’s boot along with the rest of this semester’s Senior Design projects this Friday in the SERC, and watch the video below to see what Senior Design means for Temple Engineering students.