This tendon-tapping wearable can measure tension

New tendon-tapping method could help people with injuries
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A team of researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed a wearable that aims to track the tendon tension of runners and walkers.

The system, which non-invasively measures the tendons when the user is engaged in movement, the engineers hope, will one day be able to help plan more effective treatments for people suffering with injuries, as well as those with diseases.

Read this: How to stay injury free with wearables

"Currently, wearables can measure our movement, but do not provide information on the muscle forces that generate the movement," said study leader Darryl Thelen.

"We've found a way to measure the vibrational characteristics—in this case, the speed of a shear wave traveling along a tendon. And then we went further and determined how we can interpret this measurement to find the tensile stress within the tendon."

"We think the potential of this new technology is high, both from a basic science standpoint and for clinical applications," Thelen continued.

The prototype of the wearable has been tested on the Achilles, patellar, and hamstring tendons of the wearer, tapping the collagen band around 50 times per second. When it does, it initiates a wave in the tendon, and two accelerometers monitor how quickly it travels. Then, using this data, researchers are able to measure how the vibrational characteristics of the tendon change during movement.

This method, detailed further by the team in the Nature Communications journal, though the prototype's applications could soon be making waves in rehabilitation, orthopaedics, ergonomics, and sport.

This tendon-tapping wearable can measure tension

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Conor Allison


Conor moved to Wareable Media Group in 2017, initially covering all the latest developments in smartwatches, fitness trackers, and VR. He made a name for himself writing about trying out translation earbuds on a first date and cycling with a wearable airbag, as well as covering the industry’s latest releases.

Following a stint as Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint, Conor returned to Wareable Media Group in 2022 as Editor-at-Large. Conor has become a wearables expert, and helps people get more from their wearable tech, via Wareable's considerable how-to-based guides. 

He has also contributed to British GQ, Wired, Metro, The Independent, and The Mirror. 

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