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31-year-old University of Melbourne Ph.D. candidate Deepti Aggarwal has invented wearable "smart sock" technology that could help physiotherapists treat regional and remote patients.
Patients in remote and regional Australia often have to make a long journey to see a physiotherapist in metropolitan areas.
Many consult their patients over video, however, the technology has its limitations - particularly the two-dimensional view of the patient available to the physiotherapist.
Ms Aggarwal claims her invention ‘SoPhy’ socks solves this problem. Her new ‘smart socks’ are essentially a piece of wearable technology that provides physiotherapists real-time information on a patient’s lower body movements.
Ms Aggarwal, who created this at the University of Melbourne, explained that “video consultations have certain limitations such as the ability to observe the subtle differences in patients’ lower limb movements".
“Till a physiotherapist can see it, they have limited understanding of the patient’s actual recovery, leading to less specific treatment," she said.
“This technology, which you can wear over your foot, provides real-time feedback.”
“The socks are embedded with movement and pressure sensors, and when worn by the patient, capture information about weight distribution, the range of movement and foot orientation for the patient’s lower limb movements".
The socks are then coupled with a web-interface that presents the captured information to physiotherapists using foot sketches.
It took six months for Ms Aggarwal to create this technology that she has named ‘SoPhy’ socks.
Ms Aggarwal completed her Masters in Computer Science in India at the International Institute of Information Technology before coming out to Australia on a spouse visa.
“[My husband] was pursuing his Ph.D. in Australia when we got engaged. So I chose to come to Melbourne and got this fantastic opportunity to conduct research at the University of Melbourne,” she said.
Ms Aggarwal hopes to apply her invention to other fields like artificial limbs and sports injuries in future.
“Currently I am concentrating on funding my research and looking at collaborations,” she added.
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