New sock to counteract life-threatening diseases
Through textiles and advanced microelectronics it is possible – believe it or not – to prevent life-threatening diseases such as pulmonary embolism and other deadly vascular diseases. Together, Smart Textiles, Science Park Borås, the Karolinska Institute, and the KTH Royal Institute of Technology have now developed the very first prototypes of the muscle-stimulating sock known as “IQ-Sock,” the very latest innovation of wearable technology in individualized healthcare.
One of the most common causes of death in the world is today linked to cardiovascular diseases; a large proportion of these deaths are related to secondary issues such as blood clots in the legs, infections, and operations. Today, a lot of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) patients are treated with various types of blood thinners and clot-dissolving operations, but they are also treated with muscle stimulation in the form of electric shocks and compressors that massage.
Nils-Krister Persson, researcher at Smart Textiles and one of the project leaders in “IQ-Sock,” believes that an important ambition in the medical technology of the future is to replace medicines with textiles to some extent.
“The core of the project is to show how smart textiles and advanced healthcare can meet and to investigate the possibilities of counteracting deadly diseases such as pulmonary embolism, something that often originates from, for example, a clot in the leg.” Through Smart Textiles’s substantial knowledge base and experience, it is clear that it will soon be possible to replace a variety of traditional treatment methods with smart textiles, according to Nils-Krister Persson.
“The ‘IQ-Sock’ is what it sounds like, a smart sock that is tailored to patients’ needs. The textile we use at the moment is an electrically conductive polyester that is comfortable against the skin. Electrodes are then placed on the sock; they can then be rearranged, depending on the patient, as the motor points (the place where the nerve goes down in the muscle) are individual. KTH is responsible for the development of special microelectronics that control the electric currents, either through smartphones or pre-programmed programs. All in all, therefore, the basic function of the sock is to stimulate muscle tissue to achieve a blood flow-enhancing effect without medication or clumsy aids. In practice, you should be able to be treated when you are at work or taking a walk.”
Several year-long collaboration
The Karolinska Institute and Smart Textiles have worked together for many years in a number of different projects, which has laid the foundation for a successful exchange of knowledge where many interesting perspectives on possible solutions in healthcare have been raised.
“IQ-Sock” is funded by Medtech4Health through Vinnova and runs until 2023.