New nasal technology creates new opportunities to assess the neurological development of young children. Early motor assessment is essential to support early detection of neurodevelopmental problems and their therapeutic interventions.
A Finnish research team at the BABA Center, Helsinki Children’s Hospital, has developed a new wear for infants to reliably assess early motor skills. The MAIJU Smart Overalls (Motor Assessment of Infants with a Jumpsuit) is a wearable medical device equipped with multiple motion sensors that help assess and predict a child’s neurological development.
In their recent study, the researchers measured infants aged 5 to 19 months using MAIJU coveralls during spontaneous games, mostly in children’s homes. At the beginning of the study, the postures and movements of infants were identified visually from video using a motor description scheme developed for this study. This information was then used to teach a machine-based learning algorithm to recognize the same postures and movements during each second of each child’s play time with an accuracy equal to a visual assessment prepared by an expert.
“The development of the MAIJU medium for this required a technical breakthrough in the development of machine learning algorithms. This was achieved by combining a new kind of description of motor skills with modern solutions for deep learning, “- says the leader of the company. technical development, Dr. Manu Hiraksinen.
New methods of studying neurological development
MAIJU coveralls and related analytical solutions allow you to accurately assess and track the motor maturity of the child. This progress can be used in a variety of ways, such as in early clinical diagnosis and other developmental assessments, and makes it possible to measure the effectiveness of different treatments and therapies.
“Our study shows that it is very possible to assess the motor development of the baby outside the hospital or in special laboratory conditions. A special advantage of the MAIJU methodology is the fact that it allows you to assess the development of a child’s natural environment, such as home or kindergarten.” , – explains Sampsa Vanhatala, professor of physiology and head of the BABA Center.
“Techniques of this kind are urgently needed to support research and new therapeutic innovations in early neurological development,” confirms Lina Haataja, a professor of pediatric neurology.
The earlier delays in neurodevelopmental development and related problems are identified, the better we will be able to support a child’s future development and lifelong neurocognitive abilities.
Children move to learn
It is now generally accepted that the motor development of a young child is independent of all other neurocognitive development. The child’s strong innate urge to move arose from an obvious need: the child needs to move a lot to gain experience and learn in the environment.
“That’s why it’s important to encourage children to move as naturally and as much as possible in everyday life situations,” Haataya says.
A child with motor or other neurological problems will need special support or therapy that works best when they are part of the child’s daily life and environment. The MAIJU smart jumpsuit allows you to find the best therapeutic strategies in such situations and evaluate the effectiveness of such treatments.
New programs for wearable devices
Developing a smart nasal device for medical use is much more difficult than bringing a consumer product to market. Vanhatala believes that their successful work in the field of wearable devices has a broad global impact and a bright future.
“Our techniques can be automated and extended for very wide use. It is also possible that our technology can be adapted to develop wearable solutions to help other patient groups such as the elderly or even the elderly.”
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