In a breakthrough stride towards the future of physiotherapy, the University of Canterbury’s Dr. Aluna Everitt is developing a wearable, sensor-integrated 3D-printed device. Originally conceptualized during her research visit to Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, this innovation has profound potential for the physiotherapy and healthcare sectors.

At the core of this invention lies the challenge of designing a device that seamlessly integrates with the human body, offering real-time feedback. Dr. Everitt’s vision encapsulates a tool that not only tracks bodily movement but also ensures physiotherapy exercises are conducted correctly outside of supervised sessions. This interactive surface, akin to fabric, promises to bridge the gap between professional guidance and self-help.

Crafted using a multi-material 3D printer, this “digital fabric” is a matrix of interconnected 3D-printed tiles with embedded interactive capabilities. Its unique construct allows the device to be attuned to individual body movements, providing instantaneous feedback via LED lights and potentially through haptic feedback, or vibrations, in the forthcoming iterations.

Beyond its physiotherapeutic implications, the digital fabric exhibits adaptability. It can be integrated into daily wearables, such as knee straps, enhancing its user-friendliness. Dr. Everitt’s approach emphasizes democratizing design, ensuring the technology remains affordable, simple, and accessible.

Dr. Everitt, with a rich academic lineage including associations with the University of Oxford, Bristol, and Lancaster, collaborates with peers like Professor Audrey Girouard at Carleton University. Her immediate ambition centers around refining this prototype and exploring its applications in digital health.

In essence, Dr. Everitt’s innovation represents the confluence of technology and healthcare, promising to reshape how we perceive and experience physiotherapy in the future.

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