Researchers at the National University of Singapore have developed a robotic sock that could help mitigate the dangers of deep vein thrombosis, a medical condition where clots form in the veins and obstruct blood flow. This condition can be fatal if the clot finds its way to the pulmonary artery. This high-tech, inspired by the tentacle movements of coral, helps stimulate blood circulation throughout the body.
When developing the device, the researchers focused on the ability of ankle muscles to help promote flow of blood back to the heart. The movements of these muscles was seen as being similar to those of coral tentacles. The researchers developed actuators that perform motions similar to tentacles when they stretch out to reach for food, and created a device that helps recreate ankle movements vital to blood flow.
The robotic sock can be used to complement existing ankle therapy on bed-ridden patients to improve effectiveness and reduce the length of treatments, or can be used as a new and stand-alone intervention in addition to manual therapy sessions.