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New Shoes to Protect from Back Injuries from Heavy Lifts

New Shoes to Protect from Back Injuries from Heavy Lifts

Tuesday, 19 September, 2017 - 06:00
Back pain. (Getty Images)

To protect people from back injuries, a team of researchers in Canada has developed a sensor that can be installed in the shoes, to determine whether the user is taking a right or wrong posture when lifting heavy weights.


Eya Barkallah, from the University of Quebec at Chicoutimi in Canada, said many people often do not realize that they are not adopting the right posture when lifting heavy items. So she worked with her colleagues to create a pair of wearable sensors that can detect when someone is not using the right posture while lifting or carrying something heavy.


The New Scientist website reported Barkallah as saying: “We wanted to find a preventative treatment for work-related injuries.”


She noted that pressure sensors slipped into an insole detect how a person is distributing their weight.


The research team also developed a safety hat with an accelerometer to track how they are moving while lifting heavy weights. Researcher James Brusey at Coventry University, UK, said this combination of sensors is perfect for detecting a lot of posture problems during the movement.


In the testing phase, the team at Quebec had a volunteer put on the hat and shoes and lift some boxes in three different ways, half of the time the volunteer used best practice, but the other half, he purposely committed the most common lifting mistakes.


The researchers then ran the sensor data through a deep learning algorithm to teach the system to tell the difference between correct and incorrect postures.


When it was put to the test, it could correctly classify the person’s posture 95 percent of the time.


Barkallah said it would be easy to add a button to the system that vibrated or made a sound to alert the wearer when they were using the wrong posture when lifting heavy weights.


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