There’s a common saying I’ve heard more than once: “You’re going to love your surgeon but hate your physical therapist.” They were right but it was nice to have the warning. Rehab is tough, even with something routine like rotator cuff surgery. Musculoskeletal and neurological arm, hand, and shoulder rehabilitation can be tough for anyone, but even more of a challenge after a stroke or for MS and spinal cord injury patients. We have written about garments, glasses, and sensors to help with rehab including Nottingham Trent University’s Facial Remote Activity Monitoring Eyewear, a “stroke suit” from the University of Twente in the Netherlands, and the Rapael Smart Glove.

Qi Wang from the Department of Industrial Design, Eindhoven University of Technology, the Netherlands and researchers from Hasselt University in Belgium, Utrecht in the Netherlands, and Fudan University in China are developing Zishi: A Smart Garment for Posture Monitoring. In a study published in the CHI EA 16 Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Wang presented their progress with two training scenarios for arm-hand rehab after a stroke, MS, or spinal injury and for shoulder patients. The garment is essentially a vest-like shirt. Zishi has sensors and electronics integrated into smart fabric. The garment works in conjunction with an Android smartphone or tablet app used to set angle thresholds for the various arm, shoulder, and body positions. When a threshold is exceeded the garment delivers vibration and the app on the mobile device presents a visualization of the current posture and instructions for posture correction.

The Zishi group has confirmed the potential of Zishi to assist with rehabilitation, but now wants to run clinical trials with different groups. Additional garment sense of lower back posture, lower arm monitoring, and multi-modal monitoring are all on the planning board. The Zishi garment was designed for women but Wang and her team now intend to design a version for men as well.