Sound device to spot knee osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis of the knee is one of the major causes of pain and physical disability in the elder population. Millions of people suffer from osteoarthritis.  Recently, UK researchers developed a prototype device that can detect the onset of osteoarthritis in the knee. The auditory device works by scanning the knees for sound, which point out a degeneration in the knee joint. The device was being developed by researchers from the universities of Lancaster and Central Lancashire.

About the device
The device is designed to detect osteoarthritis in predevelopment stage so that person can take preventive measures in terms of exercises, if necessary medicines to control the joint diseases at an early stage.

How does the device work?
Prof John Goodacre of Lancaster University explained that we wanted to see whether we could listen to moving joints and use the patterns of sound that are omitted to tell us, whether something about the joint is changing.

For that test, specialty microphones are taped to the knees and the patients were directed to stand up and sit down for numerous times in a chair.  The sound was collected and analyzed in various ways to look at the amount of sound and the characteristic of the sound, which seem to give them a good idea of whether the joint is affected by osteoarthritis.

Dr Goodacre said that “Essentially we have set up a way of measuring the sound coming from joints based upon a simple repetitive movement of sitting to standing.”

Researchers said that the inspiration...

for the device comes from industry where acoustic tools are already in use to spot wear and tear. For example, in ports, such devices are used to spot damage to the bearings in jetty loading arms, which pump oil and other liquids from ships.

Presently there is no cure for the condition however; weight loss can reduce the pressure on the knee joint. Some exercises are recommended to prevent stiffness and improve the mobility, but in severe cases surgery can be done.


Researchers are hopeful that the device will be inexpensive and offer a practical tool for GP surgeries and clinics, which would be used to diagnose and monitor osteoarthritis.

The device based on acoustics is a result of marriage between Engineering and Medical science. The new device looks promising and addresses the need of the elderly population. If the device detects the onset of osteoarthritis in a person, patient can seek doctor’s advice and plan their exercises at an early stage. I think this invention fits the bill of “Prevention is better than cure.”

Source: bbcnews

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