Improved Foot Sensor

Johns Hopkins University, 2001 - $8,200

Roughly 1.4 million lower extremity fractures, including 950,000 to the ankle, occur annually in the US. The majority of these musculoskeletal injuries require some type of physical therapy. Because the total cost involved in diagnosis, surgery, or rehabilitation of such injuries amounts to billions of dollars, this E-Team from John Hopkins University developed a low-cost foot sensor that aids patients in recovery.

Research shows that patients recover faster with limited weight-bearing programs, but gauging how much pressure to apply to the injury before doing harm is difficult. The team's foot sensor measured the pressure and alerted patients if they put too much pressure on their injury. Patients could adjust the pressure threshold according to the nature of the injury, the severity, and progress in rehabilitation.

The E-Team consisted of ten undergraduate students enrolled in a year-long biomedical engineering course sequence with skills in computer programming and computer, biomedical, and electrical engineering. The students worked under the umbrella of Homewood Biomedical Design Associates, a university-based corporation. An engineering professor worked with the team, along with an engineering lecturer, the clinical director of Physiotherapy Associates, and the president and founder of Venture Quest, Inc., a management firm.