Many medical conditions, including sensory processing disorder (SPD), employ compression therapy as a form of treatment. SPD patients often wear weighted or elastic vests to produce compression on the body, which have been shown to have a calming effect on the wearer. Recent advances in compression garment technology incorporate active materials -- shape memory alloys (SMAs) -- to produce dynamic, low bulk compression garments that can be remotely controlled. In this study, an active compression vest using SMA spring actuators was developed to produce up to 52.5 mmHg compression on a child’s torso for SPD applications. The vest prototype incorporated 16 SMA spring actuators (1.25 mm diameter, spring index = 3) that constrict when heated, producing large forces and displacements that can be controlled via an applied current. When applied power was increased (up to 43.8 W), the prototype vest generated increasing magnitudes of pressure (up to 37.6 mmHg, spatially averaged across the front of the torso) on a representative child-sized form. Average pressure generated was measured up to 71.6% of the target design pressure, and spatial pressure non-uniformities were observed that can be traced to specific garment architectural features. This study demonstrates the viability of SMA-based compression garments as an enabling technology for enhancing SPD (and other compression-based) treatment.
Wearable Technology Lab
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