A new innovation makes it possible to quantitatively assess babies’ movements in their natural environment. Researchers at the University of Helsinki have developed a smart jumpsuit or “onesie” that accurately measures the spontaneous and voluntary movement of infants from the age of five months. The assessment is part of the neurological examination of infants, but typically, they are qualitatively measured at the physician’s or physiotherapist’s office. However, an infant’s behavior in this setting may not entirely match that seen at home.
“The smart jumpsuit provides us with the opportunity to quantify infants’ spontaneous and voluntary movements outside the laboratory. The child can be sent back home with the suit for the rest of the day. The next day, it will be returned to the hospital where the results will then be processed,” says Sampsa Vanhatalo, professor of clinical neurophysiology at the University of Helsinki.
Vanhatalo says that the new analysis method quantifies infant motility as reliably as viewing a video recording, providing the infant’s actual movements with physical positions known to the second. These computational measures will then be applied to the data.
“This is a revolutionary step forward. The measurements provide a tool to detect the precise variation in motility from the age of five months, something which medical smart clothes have not been able to do until now,” says Vanhatalo.
The data gleaned by the smart jumpsuit is valuable since the detection of abnormalities in the neurological development of infants at an early stage enables early support. The study on the smart jumpsuit and the related analysis method applied to 7-month-old infants was published in Scientific Reports. In the future, the technology could also be used to study older children.
Source: University of Helsinki