Simple device warns when muscles begin to atrophy

Whether it's patients with degenerative diseases or astronauts in zero gravity, some people

muscle wasting must be controlled. A new wearable device will help with this.

Currently the only thing reallyan accurate means of measuring the size and volume of muscles in certain parts of the body is clinical examinations, including technologies such as MRI. Led by electrical and computer engineering graduate student Allianna Rice, a team at Ohio State University has developed a smaller, less expensive, and patient-friendly alternative. Externally, the wearable device is not much different from a conventional blood pressure cuff.

It consists of two electric coils,made of conductive threads that are sewn into the fabric in a stretchy zigzag pattern. One of them serves as a transmitter and the other as a receiver. It is important to note that the size of the loop formed by each coil (when the device is wound around the limb) depends on the volume of the underlying muscle.

Device prototype. Photo: Ohio State University

“We apply a time-varying current totransmission coil, which creates a magnetic flux on the transmission coil. Then a magnetic flux is induced on the pickup coil, and this flux induces a voltage on the pickup coil that we can measure,” explains Rice. — The induced magnetic flux depends on the cross-sectional area of ​​the coils. Thus, as the circumference of the limb increases, the total magnetic flux and voltage across the receiver coil will also increase.”

So far, the device has been tested on3D printed leg molds filled with ground beef to mimic the calf muscle of an average-sized man. It turned out that it accurately detects small changes in the overall size of the limbs and is able to measure the loss of muscle mass up to 51%. Once the tool is finalized, it can be connected wirelessly to an application that will record and transmit patient readings to healthcare providers.

The researchers recently published an article in the IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering journal about a NASA-supported study co-authored by Prof. Asiminia Chiurti.

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