“BRUISE is a smart injury detection suit for disabled athletes with loss of sensation. It applies a recyclable pressure-sensitive film to indicate the severity of injuries. High risk areas are covered with disposable, made-to-fit film sheet inserts. If an area is excessively stressed during an accident, the film will irreversibly change color. After training or competing, injured areas can be easily spotted and effectively treated.”
What It Does
BRUISE is an injury detection suit for disabled athletes with loss of sensation, enabling them to see injuries right when they happen.
The initial idea for BRUISE came from an interview with Paralympic sit-skier, Talan Skeels-Piggins. He mentioned the frequency of crashes he had in training and competing, and the complications in detecting and assessing the severity of injuries in his legs.
Athletes who have reduced or no sensation in a part of their body (e.g. Paraplegics), can struggle with detecting injuries. It can be very difficult to differentiate between a bruise and a more serious injury. Visual symptoms also show up slowly for people with paralysis because of poor circulation. Consequently, injuries can easily be left unnoticed. Any delay of the treatment of injuries can become performance-hindering or even life-threatening for the athletes. Similarly, more cautious athletes can find themselves making frequent and unnecessary trips to hospital for x-rays or consultations for injuries which are not serious at all.
There are many added hurdles and complications facing disabled athletes. We saw an opportunity to address a major one of these issues, allowing athletes to keep 100% of their focus on training, competing and winning. The athletes we talked to and worked with are single-mindedly focused on being the best they can in their sport. We took the insights from working with them and came up with a solution that helps them to do that.
How It Works
BRUISE is a smart injury detection suit for disabled athletes with loss of sensation. It applies a recyclable pressure-sensitive film to indicate the severity of injuries. High risk areas are covered with disposable, made-to-fit film sheet inserts. If an area is excessively stressed during an accident, the film will irreversibly change colour. After training or competing, injured areas can be easily spotted and effectively treated. BRUISE is made of sweat-wicking stretch fabric for a comfortable, supportive fit. Mesh inserts and ergonomic seams offer breathability and freedom for movement.
The BRUISE suit gives immediate feedback on whether an impact has been severe enough to cause serious injury. This enables athletes to seek appropriate medical treatment, or if the injury isn’t serious, to have piece of mind. The quicker an injury is identified, the faster the athlete can begin the healing process and the more effective a treatment strategy can be.
Stages of Development
We organized a number of workshops and interviews with Paralympic athletes to understand their professional and personal life patterns and came up with a lead insight.
Material and Technology Exploration
We manufactured and tested more than 30 materials and structures that could potentially visualize impact, including silicone coated paint capsules and multi-layered ink papers. We eventually decided to use a pressure sensitive film – a cost effective technology mainly used in machinery and heavy industry.
Prototyping and Testing
The prototypes were extensively tested in a drop tower to find the limits of BRUISE’s versatility. Using a wide variety of loading conditions, together with rigs to simulate different body parts, we were able to carefully correlate the visible impression on the film to impact scenarios. We took this a step further, testing on the hind and fore shanks of a (dead) sheep – suitable replacements for the femur and tibia.
Fitting and Real User Testing
We’ve manufactured multiple versions of BRUISE and are working with athletes in real training settings to better understand how to improve the suit. The success of the initial tests allowed us to confidently move forwards with the knowledge that BRUISE could produce accurate, repeatable and useful results for athletes. Further testing will allow us to carefully design the suit for optimum performance in different sports.