A new innovation makes it possible, for the first time, to quantitatively assess children's spontaneous movement in the natural environment.
Researchers have developed a smart jumpsuit, or a garment that accurately measures the spontaneous and voluntary movement of infants from the age of five months. Details on their motility help in assessing abnormal neurological development, among other things.
The study on the smart jumpsuit and the related analysis method applied to 7-month-old infants was published in the Scientific Reports journal. In the future, the jumpsuit can also be used to study older children.
The assessment of spontaneous and voluntary movements is part of the neurological examination of infants. Previously, the quantitative tracking of children's spontaneous motility in the natural environment has not been possible. Instead, children have been primarily qualitatively assessed at the physician's or physiotherapist's practice, which requires taking into account the fact that the infant's behavior in the practice setting does not necessarily entirely match that seen at home.
The smart jumpsuit provides us with the first opportunity to quantify infants' spontaneous and voluntary movements outside the laboratory. The child can be sent back home with the suit for the rest of the day. The next day, it will be returned to the hospital where the results will then be processed." Sampsa Vanhatalo, professor of clinical neurophysiology at the University of Helsinki
Vanhatalo says that the new analysis method quantifies infant motility as reliably as a human being would be able to do by viewing a video recording. After the measurement, the infant's actual movements and physical positions will be known to the second, after which computational measures can be applied to the data.
"This is a revolutionary step forward. The measurements provide a tool to detect the precise variation in motility from the age of five months, something which medical smart clothes have not been able to do until now." Neurological abnormalities should be detected early on
The data gleaned by the smart jumpsuit is valuable, since the detection of abnormalities in the neurological development of infants at an early stage enables early support. Brain plasticity is at its strongest in early childhood, and is benefited by measures supporting development, which are targeted at recurring everyday activities. Related Stories
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