Researchers at Northwestern University and Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in the US have developed a wearable, stretchable sensor that can be worn on the throat for monitoring stroke rehabilitation.

The bandage-like sensor works through the measurement of swallowing ability and speech patterns of a patient to help in diagnosing and treating a communication disorder called aphasia associated with stroke.

It is designed to monitor vocal cord vibrations and is intended to provide an alternative for existing speech function tools that are said to lack the capability for differentiating patient voice from ambient noise.

Northwestern University engineering professor John Rogers said: “Our sensors solve that problem by measuring vibrations of the vocal cords. But they only work when worn directly on the throat, which is a very sensitive area of the skin.

“We developed novel materials for this sensor that bend and stretch with the body, minimising discomfort to patients.”

“We developed novel materials for this sensor that bend and stretch with the body, minimising discomfort to patients.”

At Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, the researchers tested the combination of this throat sensor with their electronic biosensors attached to the legs, arms and chest for tracking the recovery progress of stroke patients.

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Through the intermodal system, the team was able to obtain real-time quantitative physical and physiological responses from the data that was wirelessly transferred to their phones and computers.

Shirley Ryan AbilityLab research scientist Arun Jayaraman said: “With the home monitoring enabled by these sensors, we can intervene at the right time, which could lead to better, faster recoveries for patients.”