Vinnova supports new project

MedTech West/The University of Borås is one of the partners that Vinnova currently support in the first stage of the “Challenge-driven Innovation”-programme. The project “Smart textiles give sustainable health at work” is co-ordinated by Prof. Kaj Lindecrantz at KTH Royal Institute of Technology and includes, in addition to the University of Borås, also KI, Karolinska Institutet, and the Centre for Musculoskeletal Research at the University of Gävle.

The goal of this project is to develop hardware and software systems integrated with work wear which measure and assess risk load exposure, thus creating a basis to reduce injury. The project combines ergonomics, occupational health research, sensor technology, analysis methods, etc., and it relies on the interaction of these disciplines where engineering meets medicine. The first stage of the project will arrange workshops to develop the idea and extend the list of partners in time for the second stage application due in January 2016.

In Sweden, repetitive strain injury yields a cost of approximately 50 billion SEK annually related to sickness leave. It is estimated that a poorly designed workplace can cost a company 500 000 SEK. While there is general agreement that an increase in retirement age is required, many leave work life before today’s retirement age due to work-related disorders. The main causes are musculoskeletal injuries and stress-related problems. Thus, there is a great need for interventions and prevention programs to arrive at a sustainable work life. New technologies can contribute to this by visualizing improvement opportunities and provide a basis for concrete actions.

Today´s rapid development in sensor technology, mobile data acquisition, automated data processing, and improved methods for risk assessment allow the development of wearable, textile-based systems that can predict the risk both at the workplace and individual level at a cost and effort that is within reach for e.g. the occupational health services. The basic idea is to use sensors and electrodes integrated into textile, i.e. clothing, and acquire signals that measure body load during full working days. By means of real-time or fast data processing and analysis the individual risk of work-related illness / injury can be demonstrated and visualized at the work place and in the working situation.