May 2024

Saarland University Hospital pioneers smart implants for tibial fracture patients

Saarland University Hospital develops smart implants for tibial fractures, leveraging real-life gait data from Moticon's OpenGo sensor insoles to optimize treatment and healing processes.
moticon contributes to smart implants research project with gait analysis and weight bearing data in real life

A visionary clinical research project at the Saarland University Hospital, Germany, under the lead of director Prof. Tim Pohlemann aims to develop intelligent implants that will monitor how well tibial fractures heal directly on the bone and introduce active stimulation, if required (1). Moticon’s OpenGo sensor insoles played a key role in forming the data foundation for the research as in capturing gait profiles and partial weight bearing of fracture patients under real life conditions. The project was initiated in 2019 and will continue until 2025. It received €8M funding by the Werner-von-Siemens-Foundation for the 6 years period.

A mission statement and a breakdown of the current state of research was featured on German science television series “Nano” on April 18th, 2024.

In summary, the increasing incidence of fractures is a major public health problem. Of all fractures, 59% occurred in patients aged 70 years or older. The highest prevalence is found for proximal femur fractures, with the number of cases increasing sharply with age. In a considerable number of cases, complications arise during the process of recovery. For instance, in 5-10% of cases, bone consolidation is impaired, leading to pseudarthrosis with adverse effects on physical and mental health (2).

The addressed research therefore has the potentia to revolutionize the post-operative treatment of fracture patients. With smart implants representing a self-regulating in-vivo healing solution, patients’ compliance by definition is more robust compared to external measurements and interventions and complication rates expected to drop.

Moticon’s research product line OpenGo incorporating a smart monitoring feature was used in combination with a custom mobile app for long-term gait tracking at patients’ home. The long-term data included gait profiles and partial weight bearing patterns. While outstanding usability and data validity of the wireless OpenGo sensor insoles were shown earlier (3), the long-term gait monitoring features pose a novelty in the scientific landscape, facing several technological and user related challenges that had to be solved.


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