A smart jumpsuit tracks infants motor development

New wearable technology creates new possibilities for assessing the neurological development of young children. Early motor assessment is essential for supporting the early detection of neurodevelopmental problems and their therapeutic interventions.

A Finnish research group at the BABA Center, Helsinki Children’s Hospital, has developed a novel wearable for infants for the reliable assessment of motor abilities during early development. The smart jumpsuit MAIJU (Motor Assessment of Infants with a Jumpsuit) is a wearable medical device equipped with multiple movement sensors, which assist in assessing and predicting children’s neurological development.

In their recent study, the scientists measured infants at 5 to 19 months of age using the MAIJU jumpsuit during spontaneous playtime, mostly in the children’s own home environment. In the beginning of the study, the postures and movements of the infants were identified visually from a video recording using a motility description scheme custom developed for this study. This information was then used to train an algorithm based on machine learning to recognise the same postures and movements for every second of each child’s playtime at an accuracy that equals visual assessment by a trained expert.

“The development of the MAIJU wearable required a technical breakthrough in the development of machine learning algorithms for this purpose. This was achieved by combining a new kind of motility description with state-of-the-art deep learning solutions,” states the leader of technical development, Dr Manu Airaksinen.

New methods for studying neurological development

The MAIJU jumpsuit and the associated analytical solutions allow both the assessment and tracking of child’s motor maturation at an unprecedented accuracy. This advance can be exploited in many ways, for instance in early clinical diagnostics and other developmental assessments, and it also makes it possible to measure efficacy in various kinds of medical treatments and therapies.

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