Throat-motion sensor monitors stroke effects more effectively: A radical new type of stretchable, wearable sensor that measures vocal-cord movements could be a “game changer” for stroke rehabilitation, according to Northwestern University scientists. The sensors can also measure swallowing ability (which may be affected by stroke), heart function, muscle activity, and sleep quality. Developed in the lab of engineering professor John A. Rogers, Ph.D., in partnership with Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago, the new sensors have been deployed to tens of patients. “One of the biggest problems we face with stroke patients is that their gains tend to drop off when they leave the hospital,” said Arun Jayaraman, Ph.D., research scientist at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab and a wearable-technology expert. “With the home monitoring enabled by these sensors, we can intervene at the right time, which could lead to better, faster recoveries for patients.”
Monitoring movements, not sounds. The new band-aid-like stretchable throat sensor (two are applied) measures speech patterns by detecting throat movements to improve diagnosis and treatment of aphasia, a communication disorder associated with stroke. Speech-language pathologists currently use microphones to monitor patients’ speech functions, which can’t distinguish between patients’ voices and ambient noise.