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Flexible device could monitor muscle injuries using nanomagnets

Industry News | January 1, 2024 | By:

The magnetoelastic textile patch is made of silicone, nanomagnets and conductive yarn. Image: University of California Los Angeles

Preventing overuse while muscles are still healing concerns physical therapists and athletes alike. A patch using conductive yarn and nanomagnets infused in silicone could take some of the mystery out of how a patient’s healing is progressing. 

The stretchable, durable device converts muscle movement into electrical signals that can be transmitted to a smartphone app for personalized injury rehabilitation.

Testing of the device included simulating sweat and rain and monitoring muscles in the throat (while drinking), ankles (walking) and biceps (arm bending, fist gripping) as well as cardiovascular and respiration monitoring. The testing gave information on the degree of force applied, which can help therapists identify range of motion and prevent strain. When wet, the device still gives out strong signals. 

Jun Chen, University of California Los Angeles researcher and the senior author of the study, estimates that its manufacturing would be scalable and low cost. It does not need batteries.

In addition to making the device thinner and lighter, the research team also intends to investigate integration into other wearable or implantable bioelectronics.

“In the future, there is potential for us to revolutionize or even replace existing systems, such as EKGs, which currently rely on external power sources. Our goal is to create more compact and wearable alternatives,” Chen says.

The research was published in the journal Matter in June 2023.

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