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The jumpsuit can track infants’ motor and neurological development in their everyday environment, producing more accurate data | Photo source University of Helsinki

Smart jumpsuit helps assess infant motor development

Health & Wellbeing

The jumpsuit makes it possible to assess children’s neurological development in their normal environment

Spotted: It is commonly accepted that children’s motor development is connected to their neurocognitive development: children gain experience of their environment through movement. However, it can be difficult to gain accurate data about individual children’s motor development, because they need to be assessed away from their natural, home environment – until now.

A Finnish research group, working at the Helsinki Children’s Hospital, has developed a wearable for infants designed to track motor skills. The ‘smart jumpsuit’, or MAIJU (Motor Assessment of Infants with a Jumpsuit), incorporates sensors made by Finnish company Movesense. Data from the jumpsuit is analysed using a machine learning algorithm that combines “a new kind of motility description with state-of-the-art deep learning solutions.”

The researchers used the jumpsuit to measure movement during spontaneous playtime, largely in the children’s own homes. The algorithm was trained to recognise different movements using video recordings of the children and a motility description scheme custom developed for the study. Once trained, the algorithm could then recognise different movements from the jumpsuit data.

Children can wear the jumpsuit at home and data from the MAIJU jumpsuit and the associated analysis can assess and track a child’s motor development with great accuracy. This information can then be used in early clinical diagnostics and to measure the efficacy of different medical treatments and therapies. Sampsa Vanhatalo, professor in physiology at the hospital explains that, “A particular advantage of the MAIJU methodology is the fact that it allows us to carry out developmental assessments in the natural environment of the child, such as at home or daycare.”

There has been an explosion in the development and use of wearables. Many of these focus on collecting medical and health data in the home or during daily life, although most are geared towards adults. Some recent innovations include a wearable gait sensor to provide at-home physical therapy and an AI-enabled wearable that monitors asthma symptoms and can predict attacks. 

Written By: Lisa Magloff



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