New methodology using smartphones to quantify trunk function in patients with spinal cord injury

By December 2, 2021December 21st, 2021IBEC

Researchers from the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) and the Institut Guttmann – Neurorehabilitation Hospital, develop a new way of relating the level of spinal cord injury with trunk function in a quantitative and personalised way.

This advance will make it possible to determine, on an individual basis, the level of chest mobility in patients who have suffered a spinal cord injury. It offers a useful tool that permits objective and quantifiable follow-up during rehabilitation sessions.

Injuries to the spinal cord, at the cervical or thoracic level, cause the deterioration of motor and sensory functions in parts of the body that are below the point of injury. One of the health complications that this can entail is lack of control of the trunk muscles, essential for tasks such as maintaining balance, eating, dressing, picking up or manipulating objects, and many other daily tasks.

Despite the great impact of trunk motor function on quality of life, there is no objective and standardised system for its measurement. Clinical evaluation is the most common method, but it includes a high degree of subjectivity as it is based on qualitative scales.

Now, a team of researchers led by Raimon Jané, leader of the Group for Processing and Interpretation of Biomedical Signals (BIOSPIN) from the Institute of Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC, a BIST centre) and professor at the UPC, Hatice Kumru, neurologist and coordinator of neurophysiology at the Institut Guttmann, and Joan Vidal, teaching director and leader of the Institut Guttmann Neuro-repair and advanced therapies group, have developed a new methodology that can objectively and quantitatively determine trunk function in patients with a spinal cord injury. The new approach, which was recently published in the Journal of Neural Engineering, combines the electromyogram (EMG) with the accelerometer of a smartphone which can complement a clinical evaluation with objective data.

Learn more on the IBEC website.