Innovations | The Finnish smart kick suit can help identify a child’s abnormal development

Finnish researchers have developed a new type of technology for monitoring a baby’s physical development. It is a wearable smart kick suit for a toddler.

Now the possibilities of the suit to monitor the different positions and movements of the child were found eBiomedicine– published in the scientific journal in the study.

With the help of the suit, it was possible to form the motor growth curves of 116 children, i.e. detailed descriptions of the development of the children’s movement and motor skills.

Artificial intelligence analyzes the child’s positions and movements second by second.

Smart suit can be used to obtain supplementary information about the child’s abnormal and slower than usual movement development.

In Finland, a child’s development has traditionally been monitored at a counseling center.

However, assessing a child’s movement in a consultation is not completely problem-free, as the little one may be hungry at the time of the consultation or perhaps sleepy, says the pediatric neurology professor Leena Haataja.Haataja, who participated in the study, works at the BABA research center at the New Children’s Hospital of HUS.

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“The suit offers an opportunity to objectively assess the child’s movement in a situation where the child’s natural activity is disturbed as little as possible,” he says.

In research the children could tinker with the smart kick suit both at home and in the premises of the research center.

Each limb of the suit has pockets where small motion sensors can be attached. They connect to a smartphone app in real time using a bluetooth connection.

Finally, the artificial intelligence analyzes the child’s positions and movements second by second.

The child had to keep the suit on for as long as at least one hour of free movement could be registered to get comprehensive results.

Trajectories through analysis, you can identify normally developing children, but also very early physical development problems, as well as signs of a severe physical disability, i.e. CP disability.

CP is caused by early damage to the brain and is more common in premature babies.

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Still, approximately 30–50 percent of children with CP injury have not had any specific neurological symptoms or findings in early infancy, Haataja says.

Usually, problems with movement are noticed in them by the age of one and a half at the latest.

“In their case, the suit could be useful, because it could help detect abnormalities at a much earlier stage.”

“A child moves to learn, and by moving he gets to know his surroundings.”

A child abnormal movement can mean, for example, using one side of the body and limbs, or slower than normal development.

Early detection of problems is essential so that support measures such as physiotherapy can be started in time.

In a baby, the ability of the brain to mold itself is at its best. The earlier rehabilitation is started, the better the prognosis.

Infant according to the researcher, studying movement is also important.

“A child moves to learn, and by moving he gets to know his environment and draw conclusions from it,” says Haataja.

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A child’s abnormal early movement and motor skills have been found to be linked to the slower development of cognitive abilities at a later age. The connection has been observed when studying large groups of children.

One current study of the smart kick suit is investigating which factors in an infant’s early motor development are related to later cognitive development.

Multidisciplinaryresearch combining medicine and technology into the possibilities of using a smart suit continues.

“Thanks also go to the families who participated in the study,” says Haataja.

More information is needed, for example, on whether the suit could be used to find out whether the child has benefited from possible rehabilitation.

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