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Osteoarthritis Management

<< 2015 Projects

Piezoelectric Insoles and Phone Application for Osteoarthritis Pain and Exercise Management

Need: An accessible and accurate way to constantly measure and record knee pressure and pain of arthritis patients in order to help clinicians determine how patient activity correlates with physical joint condition and personalize recommendations for patient exercise based on quantitiative data.



Osteoarthritis (OA) is a painful disease characterized by cartilage degradation of weight-bearing joints that affects 21 million Americans annually. While moderate exercise may slow cartilage degeneration, patients must manage it carefully; under-exercising leads to joint weakness and decreased mobility, and over-exercising causes pain and may further damage cartilage. So far, no effective and affordable solution exists to monitor knee OA patients’ exercise and pain. We propose piezoelectric pressure-sensing insoles connected by Bluetooth to a pain tracking phone application to fill this gap. Used in combination with conventional imaging (MRI or X-ray) at checkups, this device gives clinicians a tool to connect patient activity (from plantar pressure data) to disease progression and determine personalized exercise limits. Our prototype insole successfully measured and sent real-time pressure data to a phone application via Bluetooth, which generated a graph of the sum of the values measured from each sensor. The device was rated 9.4 out of 10 and 8.1 out of 10 for comfort of insole and imperceptibility of sensors, respectively. We present a reliable method to monitor OA patients’ exercise that would allow clinicians and patients to make more informed decisions about exercising with OA. Future work should calibrate sensor measurements to kPa, incorporate machine learning to predict pain, and employ the device in testing OA treatment.  

(Left to right) Cynthia Hao, Karthik Suresh, and Christopher Wong worked on a pain measurement and monitoring system that aids osteoarthritis patients and clinicians in personalized exercise regimens to prevent over or underexercise. They prototyped a piezoelectric insole that records pressure information wirelessly on a phone app.

Click here to see the group's poster.