Infants’ spontaneous and voluntary movements mirror the developmental integrity of brain networks since they require coordinated activation of multiple sites in the central nervous system. Accordingly, early detection of infants with atypical motor development holds promise for recognizing those infants who are at risk for a wide range of neurodevelopmental disorders.
Previously, novel wearable technology has shown promise for offering efficient, scalable, and automated methods for movement assessment in adults. Now, scientists from the University of Helsinki have developed a smart jumpsuit or a garment that accurately measures the spontaneous and voluntary movement of infants from the age of five months.
Sampsa Vanhatalo, professor of clinical neurophysiology at the University of Helsinki, said, “The smart jumpsuit provides us with the first opportunity to quantify infants’ spontaneous and voluntary movements outside the laboratory. The child can be sent back home with the suit for the rest of the day. The next day, it will be returned to the hospital, where the results will then be processed.”
“The new analysis method quantifies infant motility as reliably as a human being would be able to do by viewing a video recording. After the measurement, the infant’s actual movements and physical positions will be known to the second, after which computational measures can be applied to the data.”
“This is a revolutionary step forward. The measurements provide a tool to detect the precise variation in motility from the age of five months, something which smart medical clothes have not been able to do until now.”
The jumpsuit can detect abnormalities in the neurological development of infants at an early stage. Hence, it enables new support.
According to Leena Haataja, professor of pediatric neurology, developmental disorders in today’s pressure-dominated world pose a considerable risk that can lead to learning difficulties and obstacles in the competition for education and jobs. Furthermore, they are a risk factor associated with exclusion from contemporary society.
Haataja said, “The early identification of developmental disorders and support for infants’ everyday functional capacity in interaction with the family and the growth environment constitute a significant factor on the level of individuals, families, and society.”
Haataja noted, “The early identification of developmental disorders and support for infants’ everyday functional capacity in interaction with the family and the growth environment constitute a significant factor on the level of individuals, families, and society.”
Smart jumpsuit can be used for the objective measurement of how various therapies and treatments affect children’s development.
The study is published in the Scientific Reports journal.