University of Delaware researchers are taking the concept of smart footwear literally.

What started as a senior student engineering design project could vastly improve how patients with foot or leg injuries track their healing and regain their strength

The SmartBoot is a next-generation orthopedic boot that shows a person how much weight he or she puts on an injured foot or leg. It has data storage, force sensors that light up when too much weight has been put on a foot and real-time feedback that goes straight into an online database.

A broken bone must be immobilized with a stiff brace, such as a cast or orthopedic boot, to heal but eventually a patient needs to learn how much weight to put on the injury.

“We know that some load is good for healing, but over that is the big question,” said Brian Knarr, a research assistant professor for the Delaware Rehabilitation Institute and bioengineer who led the SmartBoot project. Jill Higginson, associate professor of mechanical engineering, also sponsored the project. Read more, The News Journal

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