NUS researchers invent robotic sock that promotes blood circulation in bedridden patients

SINGAPORE - National University of Singapore researchers have invented a robotic sock that they hope will reduce the risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) in bedridden or immobile patients.

DVT refers to the generation of blood clots in a person's leg veins, which can spread to other parts of the body and become life-threatening if it reaches the lungs or heart.

For bedridden patients, the risk level of DVT can be 13 - 18 per cent, much higher than the average of about up to 0.1 per cent for regular people. Based on local clinical reports, DVT cases amongst hospital admissions have doubled since 1992.

The sock can monitor the wearer's ankle joint motion, and provide ankle joint exercises. The invention stimulates ankle-joint motions and facilitates blood flow in the leg.

Current approaches to DVT treatment include anti-coagulation drugs to prevent blood clotting, as well as compression devices or stockings to stimulate blood flow.

However, drugs can come with side effects, including a higher risk of excessive bleeding, that may become fatal for some stroke patients, while devices and stockings have not significantly reduced DVT, said the university.

The robotic sock can be assembled easily, and will not put unnecessary force or strain on the patient, it added.

samgohwy@sph.com.sg