Healing Soles: An Engineering Approach to Toe Touch Weight Bearing Status

Presenter: Christopher Scianna

Research Category: Interdisciplinary Topics, Centers and Institutes
Student Type: Undergraduate
PI: Christopher Scianna
Award Winner Category: Interdisciplinary Topics

Healing Soles is a wearable technology that sets out to improve the recovery process for lower limb injuries. Individuals recovering from lower limb injuries will often be placed in a toe touch or partial weight bearing status until their limb has time to heal. This means they are instructed to place no more than a specified weight on their injured limb. Often physical therapists will use a scale to show patients how it feels to place the proper amount of weight on the limb. After leaving the office, it is up to the patient to remember this feeling. If a patient later places too much weight on the limb, they will delay the recovery process. If they over favor their health limb, they may cause stress fractures and a new injury.

Healing Soles provides patients real-time feedback about how much weight they are placing on their limb. It is a shoe slip embedded with force-sensing resistors, a micro-controller, user inputs, and a visual and audible warning system. The patient is able to change the allowed weight as they progress through their recovery. Healing Soles then monitors the force they are applying at all times. A green light glows if in a safe range, the light turns yellow if the patient nears the allowance limit, and it turns red and a buzzer sounds if they go over their limit.

Healing Soles has the potential to help millions of Americans a year recover from lower limb injuries.