It’s been 3 months since I began rehab for the injury I wrote about in Learning to walk again. Six weeks ago I began working with a team of excellent physical therapists, and I’m making good progress. I’ve started to do a bit of running and biking, but only in an exploratory way. I’m far from being able to resume those activities at normal levels.
Meanwhile I’ve thought a lot about what it takes to make a major biomechanical correction. The effort required is at least as much mental as physical. To recover strength and range of motion in my right leg I’ve got to make sure that it moves in certain ways and not in other ways. That sucks up a huge amount of conscious attention. As a lifelong athlete I know how to marshal that kind of attention, and I’m highly motivated to recover, so there’s a good chance I’ll succeed. But it’s a significant challenge. The PTs say that many folks can’t sustain the long-term focus needed to turn something like this around.
So I continue to imagine a wearable device that would help people offload the supervisory function. I’m envisioning buttons you’d stick onto your major joints. They serve both diagnostic and corrective purposes. In diagnostic mode they do 3D motion capture. You give the data to your physical therapist, she uses it to confirm or enhance her analysis of your case. Then she beams a prescription to your buttons. In corrective mode they embody that prescription, vibrating or buzzing when you move in the wrong way.
Even when uninjured, of course, we’re not biomechanically perfect. We could all improve our posture and gait, and we’d all feel better for it. So an effective device-plus-service solution could help a lot of people.
Would it work? Beats me. I’d love to try but wearable computing isn’t really my sweet spot. If it’s yours, and if you take a crack at this, let me know how it goes.