Designer and researcher Jessica Smarsch has introduced Connextyle, a stroke rehabilitation garment designed for measuring muscle activity. Inspired by ancient Japanese technique called Kintsugi, Connextyle uses a new technology called TexPCBs, which is a silver-coated textile laminated between thermoplastic material, in order to create dry electrodes and measure muscle movement. The data collected by the TexPCBs is then sent to a processing module attached to the garments’ exterior. The module registers movement.
The rehabilitation garment works in conjunction with an app that allows patients to track and monitor their rehabilitation process. It provides them with activities to improve their muscle use, a platform on which to analyze their progress as well as features that assists therapists in helping their patients, reports Design Indaba.
The design for the Connextyle rehabilitation shirt integrates eco-friendly knit fabrics into the garment and silver-coated conductive knit fabric into the technical sleeves.
“The reason for creating a full garment (as opposed to sticking patches on the skin, or strapping sensors on the arms) was to let patients feel as comfortable and natural as possible during the months-long rehabilitation process,” says Smarsch.
Patients who have suffered a stroke perform exercises and create audio and visual patterns through body movement which increases neuronal connections. This multi-sensory stimulation system is more effective at creating new neural pathways, helping patients to relearn how to use the body.
“When I began adapting the design system for stroke rehabilitation and developing the new app, my software developer (Vention Technologies) and I utilized the same principles from the original software but enhanced it with special features for patient and therapist use,” says Smarsch.