There is more to life than fun and games. That is one possible response to news from Brilliant Sole, a leader in developing smart shoes for virtual reality (VR) and gaming. Brilliant Soles can be placed into any pair of shoes and has been presented as a great addition for gaming.
Otherwise known as “Smart Sensor Embedded Footwear” the product comprises of insoles or orthotic-looking soles. These are linked to external devices such as mobile phones, computer or VR games systems.
We will put the gaming aside for the time being. Having sensors and chips within a pair of shoes offers many possibilities for medical health.
Let’s look at ways that smart shoes could help in the world of senior rehab.
Ideas for Using Smart Shoes in Senior Rehab
These are ideas that come to mind, perhaps they are nearly on the market, perhaps they will be available in the future. If there is a demand-pull for the shoes or insoles, it might speed up production of smart shoes to help seniors.
Shoes in Rehab
Falls are one of the most common and most harmful events that happen to seniors. Seniors might suffer a fall, due to lack of good balance or problems with their gait. Shoes with sensors could send messages to an app in the phone or a program on a computer. This could be used in conjunction with regular occupational therapy sessions.
A senior could learn to improve their gait or enjoy future fall prevention. Cars and busses have sensors to alert drivers if they drive too near another vehicle. Similar technology could be used to help seniors walk more safely.
Communication and Movement in Rehab
A senior person who suffered a stroke may have partial paralysis. If they can still use one foot, the shoe-sensor can be attached (via wireless connection). At the other end would be either a device to facilitate communication or a device to encourage movement.
Control through Footwear
MedGadget presents Brilliant Sole as a potential help to people with disabilities. The Brilliant Sole website does not touch on the potential for control of feet for people with disabilities. But such a connection would be a natural progression. Let’s harness the possibility of control by the feet at such a fine level though sensors for rehab.
Other similar investigations and innovations are happening for:
- foot plantar wireless sensors, that use pressure measurement
- intelligent insoles in the world of sport and rehab
However, it is unclear whether these technologies are as sophisticated and developed as Brilliant Sole.
Technological development will march on. Hopefully, this area of development will blossom in the not-too-distant future. Seniors will get to enjoy smoother and safer movement and possibly better facilitated-communication too, through smart shoes to help seniors.
Our Feet – Smart Even without Smart Shoes
There are very many bones in our feet, about a quarter of the number of bones in the whole body. The number of natural nerve endings in the feet stands, at around 200,000 nerve endings per foot. That means that we can identify objects by touching and moving our feet over the object. That is called haptic sensation.
You could try an interesting and fun experiment with the grandchildren and young-at-heart seniors. Ask them to identify objects by using their feet. Click on the link for all the details from Scientific American.
Get ready for the next step in foot wear. Smart shoes to help seniors will surely leave footprints in the world of senior rehab. Let’s hope that Brilliant Sole or another innovator will come to the forefront of senior rehab. New, innovative insoles and footwear will soon be marketed for seniors. Additionally, the new apps that will be needed are those that will make the devices useful to professionals.