How do you combine Science and the Arts? Dr Burton and Imperial Dance Society show you how…

IMperial FringeThe MSk Lab at the Imperial Fringe Festival; Arts Experiment – 20th February 2014

On Thursday 20th February Dr Tom Burton of the MSk Lab took part in the Imperial Fringe at South Kensington Campus, which was showcasing research outputs throughout the college in collaboration with the arts.

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Dr Burton’s research has led to the development of low cost, simple to use technology capable of accurate, fast and unobtrusive measurements of foot placement and pressure while a person carries out activities of daily living. It is hoped that this enhanced real-time, bio-feedback can be used to track progress from the very first instance of injury, osteoarthritis (OA) diagnosis or following treatment – it could also be used in training. In this way patients can get real quantitative feedback relating to their treatment which will aid with the issues of compliance, understanding and motivation associated with long term degenerative diseases.

It was the first time his technology has been taken outside of the research lab and tried for a prolonged period time and with some very enthusiastic users – Imperial Dance Society.

Imperial Fringe 2014 resized 4“I was a little apprehensive about taking the  ‘smart insoles’ to the festival, as they are still being refined and only used by me for short periods time in the lab- just generally walking around to ensure that the technology connects and streams the data to the app I have built. We had an extremely enthusiastic group of dancers ranging in styles showcasing how the technology works. From ballet to modern, tap to contemporary, the insoles performed and withstood the various shoe changes and at times, quite hard use. It was great to see how the foot forces of the dancers differed and the dancers themselves were amazed to see the results generated on the big screen – it was inspiring and certainly gave me food for thought on the potential applications of this idea.” commented Dr Tom Burton.

Imperial Fringe 2014 resized 12Research to date has identified markers in the gait of individuals which can be used to predict a person’s risk of developing OA. By focusing on monitoring a person’s gait and the early detection of these markers it is hoped that preventative measures can be employed to retrain correct gait patterns as a preventative measure, to start management of OA as soon as possible or to monitor progress following treatment. Whilst a number of devices are available for gait analysis most are research tools without an end user in mind or are prohibitively expensive. It is hoped this low cost solution will provide greater access to the technology for the everyday consumer.

For further details about his research please visit: Wearable Devices for Diagnosis and Treatment of OA

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