The team’s device detects when the wearer’s knee has landed on a dangerous angle (called valgus collapse) during regular walking or exercise and warns them with a pulsing red light. Then, the brace delivers gentle electronic pulses through a neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) system to initiate a corrective movement. The NMES also helps to prevent muscle atrophy and rebuild the athlete’s subconscious neuro-muscular pathways as they recover.
Each instance of valgus collapse and NMES is recorded in the phone app for the wearer to track their recovery progress and report to their physiotherapist.
Meanwhile, classmates on the Embrace Technologies team (Nathan Batke, Maria Celkova, Angus Chen, Gary Chung, Harry Draaisma and Peter Xu) were devising their solution.
Inspired by Celkova’s experience in bouldering and gymnastics, the team sought to create a device that could help encourage an injured athlete to strengthen the muscles surrounding their ACL during recovery. They learned that improving overall leg strength could help the athlete get back to their sport faster.
“The human body is a very complicated machine,” says Draaisma. “We wanted to design a device that could help athletes quantify their recovery process as a sort of motivational tool during physiotherapy.”