Personalised Body Sensors for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders in the Workplace
In 2010 the EU set the so-called "Lisbon Goal": at least 50 percent of 55 to 64-year olds in the EU's working population were to be in active employment. Despite the strong growth figures of the intervening years, only ten EU countries met the 50 percent target in 2016, compared to just four in 2005. Illnesses and health issues are a significant factor for early exit from the labour market. In the EU, around 21 percent of non-economically active 50 to 69-year-olds who receive a pension cite their health or disability as the main reason they stopped working (Source: Eurostat, 2012). Older workers report more work-related health problems than their younger counterparts, most notably in the category of musculoskeletal disorders (Source: European Parliament, 2011).
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) top the statistics in Europe as a cause of illness-related absence from work. They not only bring about high direct expenditure in terms of treatment costs, but also high indirect costs through compensation for non-productive time (Source: German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health).
The BIONIC project has tasked itself with enabling MSD sufferers to enjoy active, long-term participation in the working life. BIONIC develops and researches digital medical technologies. To date, digital tools for the development of health-promoting workplaces have mainly provided a general ergonomic analysis using digital cameras or motion detection sensors (inertial sensor technology). However, this one-for-all analysis is not sufficient for MSDs. Any digital patient support solution must continuously and reliably monitor the body's movement to facilitate knowledge-based, medically sound movement coaching. However, this is not all - the solution must also be customisable and able to take account of users' individual needs and characteristics. The development of such medical movement coaching based on wearable technology is the goal of the EU project BIONIC (Body Information ON an Intelligent Chip). Wearables are complex sensor systems that are worn on the body and / or head. In the BIONIC project this system consists of sensor modules forming a configurable "Body Sensor Network" (BSN), which the patient integrates into his clothing. If harmful movements or symptoms are detected, the user receives real-time warnings and instructions from the system so that he can react immediately.
The overall goal of BIONIC is the development of a holistic, unobtrusive, autonomous and privacy-preserving platform for real-time alerts and continuous coaching. In the workplace, this coaching will enable users to adjust their posture and patterns of movement in line with their needs and age-specific fitness level. The BIONIC system will be a milestone in medical wearable technology.
BIONIC comprises a multidisciplinary team of researchers in the fields of wearable electronics, wearables for health applications and artificial intelligence. It also includes experts in ergonomics and anthropometrics, occupational safety and health, data analysis and system security. The results will be validated under real workplace conditions by two leading European construction and manufacturing companies.
- Comparison of the project concept with the requirements of the call for proposals
- Intensive, specialist application support
- Procurement of contacts for the "External Expert Advisory Board"