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Helping stroke patients put best foot forward

Stroke patients and people whose legs have been amputated could benefit from the collaboration between an RMIT University researcher and the University of Delaware in the United States.

Dr Gita Pendharkar from the School of Engineering TAFE will travel to the United States early next year to further her gait monitoring sensor research, thanks to a Sir Keith Murdoch Fellowship from the American Australian Association.

Dr Pendharkar, who teaches electrotechnology, has a research specialty in biomedical engineering.

"I had developed a sensor-based miniature system for my doctorate research project, which was embedded in the heel of boots and used to analyse a person's gait pattern while walking, in order to distinguish toe walking gait from normal gait," she said.

"Since my doctorate research, I have updated the gait monitoring system using RFID technology and now have a wireless gait monitoring system which can transmit the signals within a distance of 900m-1km to the receiver.

"The University of Delaware, in a larger project, has developed a robotic exoskeleton with motorised control for not only gait training of stroke patients and other motor impaired patients, but retraining the brain in using the correct movement required for a normal gait.

"This research collaboration aims to integrate the robotic active leg exoskeleton developed at the University of Delaware with the wireless gait monitoring system in order to accurately assess stroke patients' foot movement during rehabilitation."

The technology could be put to use in rehabilitation centres, hospitals, aged care, and other medical diagnostic and treatment centres.

"Based on this technology, rehabilitation centres in Australia can be developed to train not only gait impaired people, such as stroke patients, but even amputee soldiers from the Australian Armed Forces, and for the wider Australian community," Dr Pendharkar said.

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For media enquiries: news@rmit.edu.au

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