Ankle-foot orthosis that integrates a stimulation system through sensors that improve the function of the user to provide rehabilitation.

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SENZ is an innovative product specifically designed to improve the quality of life of people that face struggle caused by Cerebral Palsy (CP) and Cerebrovascular disease (CVD). It is an orthopedic device that not only provides support during the rehabilitation process, but also monitors the progress of the user's movements.

The technological integration is the heart of SENZ. It uses a combination of advanced sensors, one of them being an EMG (Electromyography) sensor, which records and analyzes the user's muscle activity. It allows an accurate scan of muscle function and provides key information for the rehabilitation process. Also, SENZ uses TENS therapy (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) to deliver electrostimulation to key muscles in the user's limb. These sensors help to strengthen and activate the muscles in a controlled manner, contributing to the rehabilitation and improvement of physical functionality.

In addition to its functionality, SENZ is also designed based on a concept that incorporates fluidity at its core, both in the product itself and in the user experience. The design promotes personal well-being by providing support in strategic areas and introducing technology to the user in a friendly manner. It was chosen to use rigid yet flexible materials (Thermoplastic Polyurethane)  to make the user interact comfortably with SENZ.

  • 3 × EMG Sensor
  • 4 × TENS Unit
  • 1 × LED lights
  • 1 × PC board
  • 2 × Switch

  • Phase 5: Integrate

    Maria Fernanda Casanello05/15/2023 at 19:59 0 comments

    As we approach the final stages of this project, our immediate focus is on integrating and consolidating all the components and progress we have made thus far. This critical step involves bringing together the various elements, including design iterations, technological advancements and sensor integration. By effectively integrating all the pieces, we can ensure that the device aligns with our objectives and meets the requirements of the Hackaday 2023 Assistive Tech Challenge.

    In order to establish a brand identity for this project, we made the decision to develop a comprehensive visual concept. This involved creating a moodboard that visually communicates the desired aesthetic, style, and overall essence of the product.

    By analyzing and comprehending the look and feel of the concept, we decided to name our brand SENZ.

    In addition, we created a code diagram that serves as a visual representation of the system from the perspective of our users. This diagram provides a comprehensive overview of the various functions and interactions within the product, helping us gain a deeper understanding of its inner workings. By mapping out the code structure, we can identify the key components, their relationships, and the overall flow of the system.

    Moreover, we opted to create a schematic diagram illustrating the arrangement of sensors on the printed circuit board (PCB) for our prototype. This diagram provides a visual representation of how the sensors will be strategically positioned and interconnected within the PCB layout.

    Additionally, we compiled a bill of materials table that includes the necessary sensors and components required for integration into the orthosis. This table not only lists the specific items but also provides information on their respective prices. By creating this detailed inventory, we can accurately assess the cost of materials and ensure proper budgeting for the prototype.

    *All prices are in Mexican pesos*

    Bill of materials of the components inside the orthosis:

    Bill of materials of the components outside the orthosis: 

    Our aspirations for this project extend beyond its current stage, as we envision ongoing development to better serve individuals with CP and EVC, and others as-well hopefully. By continuously refining and expanding upon our work, we aim to provide meaningful solutions that positively impact the lives of those affected. Our commitment lies in empowering individuals with disabilities, offering them improved opportunities, and help them enhance their future.

  • Phase 4: Define

    Sofía López Jiménez05/06/2023 at 01:25 0 comments

    The next step in our project involves defining the integration of design and functionality within the device. We need to take into consideration how users will interact with the product and how the sensors will be practically incorporated into the orthosis. We will anticipate the ergonomics and the seamless integration of sensor technology. By considering these aspects, we aim to create a user-friendly and efficient device that combines form and function.

    For prototype purposes, we decided to put the sensors within the orthosis itself. However, in order to ensure the functionality of these sensors, the components will be positioned externally and connected to the orthosis via output wires. This approach allows us to easily access and modify the components while maintaining the essential sensor input within the orthosis.

    Reference of the locations for the output and openings to facilitate the placement and maneuvering of the sensors within the orthosis:

    Also, we constructed a user journey that individuals will go through while utilizing the orthosis. This maps out the specific steps and interactions that users will encounter, ensuring a smooth and intuitive experience. 

    We also got the opportunity to try out the main sensors that will be incorporated on the orthosis (EMG and TENS) and how the feedback given works in order to understand how to incorporate them from the technological point of view. 

  • Phase 3: Ideate

    Maria Fernanda Casanello05/06/2023 at 01:16 0 comments

    After a broad research and identifying the target audience we want to help assist, we began the ideation process, focusing on brainstorming for both the design and technological integration aspects. Through this creative phase, we generated various ideas to develop a solution that effectively addresses the identified problem. 

    We are aiming to create an orthopedic device with a sensor system that assists users when receiving rehabilitation. We are focusing on developing a device that will be able to give valuable feedback and support to the individual. 

    In order to enhance stability and movement ability in the user, we decided that we wanted to create an ankle-foot orthosis (AFO) since it already provides the user with support, a more fluid and coordinated movement pattern and reduced reliance on assistance from others.

    Visual representation of the AFO through sketches: 

    In order to enhance the level of assistance provided, we want to integrate specific sensors into the AFO. These sensors will contribute to facilitating the user's rehabilitation process. The proposed sensors to be incorporated are the following:

    • TENS Therapy: It is used for the stimulation of the muscles and it allows to make movements, delivering electrical stimulation.
    • EMG Sensors: They can measure muscle activity and it allows to evaluate muscle response to therapy or physical training, as well as for biofeedback to see improvement throughout the rehabilitation process.
    • LED Lights: They will help to obtain visual feedback of  the sensor activity in the AFO. 

    In a potential future scenario, our vision is for the device to operate wirelessly, and for the feedback generated by the EMG sensors to be transmitted and accessed through a dedicated mobile app. However, in the current stage, our focus is on creating a prototype to validate and verify the functionality of the sensors, ensuring they perform their intended purpose effectively. For the development a functional prototype, we will include the following components:

    • PC Board: It will help to connect the sensores previously mentioned. 
    • 2 Switches: ON/OFF and for receiving the feedback of the received stimulation. 

  • Phase 2: Empathize

    Miranda05/06/2023 at 01:11 0 comments

    After exploring new technologies and learning about how do certain materiales behave, the next step in our process is empathizing and educating ourselves about a specific disability that impacts the lives of many individuals. By comprehending about the challenges they have to face on a daily basis, we will be able to provide an adequate device that truly caters their needs and improves their quality of life. 

    After doing a broad research, we learned about the intricacies of cerebral palsy (CP) and the significant effects it can have on the legs. CP is a neurological condition that impairs movement and muscle coordination due to damage or abnormalities in the developing brain. Depending on the type and severity of CP, individuals may experience various leg-related challenges. Spastic CP often causes increased muscle tone and stiffness, leading to difficulties with walking, balance, and coordination. Dyskinetic CP manifests as involuntary and uncontrolled movements, which can disrupt leg coordination and make controlled movements challenging. Ataxic CP primarily affects coordination and balance, resulting in difficulties with precise leg movements and maintaining stability. In a global context, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that CP affects around 17 million people worldwide.

    Additionally, we also found information about the complexities of cerebral vascular disease (CVD). It refers to a group of conditions affecting the blood vessels supplying the brain, resulting in damage or dysfunction. This disease may also affect the adequate performance of their legs. In cases such as strokes or transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), where blood flow to the brain is disrupted, it can lead to motor impairments in the legs. These may include weakness, paralysis, difficulties with coordination and balance, or changes in muscle tone. Additionally, individuals with CVD may also encounter sensory impairments, such as altered sensation or numbness in the legs. According to estimates from the Global Burden of Disease Study, published in The Lancet, in 2019, there were approximately 116.4 million cases of ischemic stroke and 9.6 million cases of hemorrhagic stroke worldwide. These numbers give an idea of the scale of CVD globally, but it's important to note that these figures include stroke cases specifically and do not encompass the full range of cerebrovascular diseases.

    After doing this wide research, we are aiming to develop a device that enhances the performance and mobility of individuals affected by cerebral palsy (CP) and cerebrovascular disease (CVD). By harnessing the power of technology and innovative design, our objective is to create a device that assists individuals in overcoming the challenges they face. Whether it's addressing muscle stiffness and coordination issues in CP or aiding motor impairments resulting from CVD, our device aims to support individuals in achieving better control and functionality in their leg movements. Through this endeavor, we aspire to enhance the overall quality of life for those living with CP and CVD by empowering them to engage in daily activities, improve independence, and unlock new possibilities in their journey towards improved mobility.

    To ensure our device effectively addresses the needs of individuals with cerebral palsy (CP) and cerebrovascular disease (CVD), we engaged in valuable discussions with a knowledgeable physiotherapist. By consulting with this expert, we gained invaluable insights into the areas where these individuals are most affected in their legs and the specific muscles that require stimulation to enhance their experience. Drawing from their expertise, we aim to design our device to target these specific muscle groups, providing targeted support and stimulation.

    Visual reference of muscle placement of the lower limb:

    Visual reference of artery placement of the lower limb:

  • Phase 1: Explore

    Gracia Altamirano05/06/2023 at 01:06 0 comments

    To start the development of the project, we decided to explore and understand the behaviors of unfamiliar materials. Additionally, we also got the chance to try out some new technologies. This approach may allow us to broaden our knowledge in order to enhance the outcome of this project.

    We got the opportunity to experiment with 3D scanning.  We got to try out scanning various objects such as: a leg from one of team members and an ankle-foot orthosis that we had from and unfinished project. This was a very insightful process, since we could identify what was the scanning scope, as it identified general shapes, and some parts were detailed correctly, such as the toes, but others had more range of error, specifically the background where the leg was. We believe it will add value to our future product if we apply these advanced technologies in our product in  order to develop a more connected and approachable experience for our user.  

    We also had the chance to test a new 3D printing filament called TPU, which is known for its increased flexibility compared to the PLA filament we are familiar with. This new material provides exciting prospects for designing components that can better adapt to the specific needs of the user. By incorporating TPU in our product, we anticipate functionality and comfort, resulting in a more personal and effective solution.

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