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Textile Systems for eHealth
Keywords: Textile, eHealth, Sensors
Today’s smart textiles can cover various medical aspects: prevention, diagnosis, therapy and rehabilitation. In the future, the combination of smart textiles and telemedicine will be necessary as the structural changes – especially in rural areas do no longer allow the full medical care in the conventional way. For these applications sensors have to be integrated which can be textile based but also miniaturized conventional sensors can be required. Actuators are necessary for some systems. Signal processing and storage as well as interfaces to the environment have to be integrated as well. Due to the complexity of the systems and the broad range of sensor systems possible, it is necessary to develop generic modular system concepts. Only the modularity can enable fast and cost effective development or adaptation of systems with new functionalities. These concepts can be transferred to other areas with multiple sensors as well: e.g. protective clothing. While various diagnostic systems have been developed over the last decade and the feasibility of ECG and EMG is proven, there are not a lot of products on the market yet. Systems which fulfill lower requirements can be used e.g. in prevention. Currently a major trend in prevention can be seen in posture and movement monitoring as the number of patients having problems with their musculoskeletal system grows continuously. Especially the movement of the knee and the posture of the spine are under investigation. The positioning and combination of the sensors together with the evaluation of the different signals is the focus of ongoing research. Another challenge which affects a growing number of patients worldwide is the prevention of ulcers due to diabetes. Pressure sensor arrays in textiles (insoles, matresses,…) can play a major role here. This kind of application has the advantage to be also applicable in sports where the barriers for market entrance are even lower.
Rolf Aschenbrenner,
Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration

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