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A review of wearable sensors and systems with application in rehabilitation

Shyamal Patel12, Hyung Park3, Paolo Bonato14, Leighton Chan3 and Mary Rodgers56*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Boston, MA, USA

2 Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Northeastern University, Boston, MA, USA

3 Rehabilitation Medicine Department Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA

4 Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA

5 Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA

6 National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA

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Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation 2012, 9:21  doi:10.1186/1743-0003-9-21

Published: 20 April 2012


The aim of this review paper is to summarize recent developments in the field of wearable sensors and systems that are relevant to the field of rehabilitation. The growing body of work focused on the application of wearable technology to monitor older adults and subjects with chronic conditions in the home and community settings justifies the emphasis of this review paper on summarizing clinical applications of wearable technology currently undergoing assessment rather than describing the development of new wearable sensors and systems. A short description of key enabling technologies (i.e. sensor technology, communication technology, and data analysis techniques) that have allowed researchers to implement wearable systems is followed by a detailed description of major areas of application of wearable technology. Applications described in this review paper include those that focus on health and wellness, safety, home rehabilitation, assessment of treatment efficacy, and early detection of disorders. The integration of wearable and ambient sensors is discussed in the context of achieving home monitoring of older adults and subjects with chronic conditions. Future work required to advance the field toward clinical deployment of wearable sensors and systems is discussed.

Wearable sensors and systems; Home monitoring; Telemedicine; Smart home