Sensors monitor the healing of fractures
Screws and other metal elements are used to stabilise broken bones in the healing process. Scientists at the Technical University of Hamburg are now developing sensors in the "SmartFix" research project that can be used to monitor how the bones grow together.
Advantages compared to classical methods
The metal elements transfer the forces acting on the fixation and thus relieve the fracture. This enables patients with lower leg fractures, for example, to put partial weight on their leg and retain some mobility despite the fracture.
The further the healing process of the bone progresses, the more forces it resumes itself and the metal rods of the fixation are less stressed. And that can be measured.
Andreas Bahr would like to develop the technology even further: "With the help of a signal tone via mobile phone, the patient could be warned in case of overstraining. That way, he can assess which movements are possible without endangering the stability of the fixation or the healing process." Until that time comes, the measuring systems have to be evaluated in a clinical feasibility study, which is planned for 2025. The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.