Portable Load Monitoring Device for a Patient"s Foot
Background: Subsequent to a variety of medical procedures including, but not limited to knee arthroplasties, hip arthroplasties, and fracture repairs, post-operative weight-bearing on the affected leg must be limited to facilitate proper healing and avoid exacerbation of injury. However, some degree of axial load is often tolerated to enable appropriate rehabilitation to take place. A maximally allowable weight load is usually determined by the appropriate surgeon or physician, and this is typically increased stepwise over time. It is therefore most essential to continuously monitor the pressure load on the patient's foot as exerted during walking by any suitable test device that is easily usable, convenient, non-bulky, and does not significantly impede ambulation itself. Technology: The present invention deals with the object of providing a compact, convenient, reliable, and portable load monitoring device for a patient's foot that may be practically worn by the patient at all times during ambulation. The device, when used properly, should facilitate patient compliance with weight bearing parameters set forth by the physician. A device for monitoring a predetermined pressure load comprises in accordance with the present invention a pressure sensor which is to be placed under the foot (to include preferably both the heel and forefoot) for monitoring a predetermined pressure load.
The pressure sensor has a component which can sense pressure on one or more of the orthogonal axes. Another embodiment involves the use of the sensor in a foot insert to register pressure readings across the sole of the foot. An electronic system is integrated to the sensor which has a means of communicating to the patient when total weight bearing exceeds the limitations set forth by the physician. Such means of communication may include an audible alarm, a flashing light, mechanical pressure, or a noxious but physiologically safe stimuli (mild electric shock). The sensor can fit between the foot and a shoe or orthotic device. The entire device is portable and battery operated.
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