The human brain doubles in size in the first year of a person’s life. This time is vital to building a foundation for future learning, health, and development and is where many underlying neurological conditions will reveal themselves. Recognizing and treating these conditions as early as possible is important to give the child the best quality of life when it’s older, however, the signs are often difficult to spot.
Enter the smart jumpsuit MAIJU (Motor Assessment of Infants with a Jumpsuit) invented by Finnish researchers at the University of Helsinki. This AI wearable medical device is packed with movement sensors that can track the motor development of children with unprecedented accuracy.
“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 in a press release.
In the study, the team measured infants during spontaneous playtime at home between the ages of five to 19 months. Videos of their postures and movement in combination with data from the suit were used to train a custom-developed algorithm, which was then able to recognize the same actions in other children. From this, the MAIJU jumpsuit can assess and track a child’s motor maturation.
“Our research shows that it is very possible to assess the motor development of an infant outside of a hospital or special laboratory setting. A particular advantage of the MAIJU methodology is the fact that it allows us to carry out developmental assessments in the natural environment of the child, such as a home or daycare,” explains Sampsa Vanhatalo, who worked on the project.
This medical tool can be used for early clinical diagnostics and developmental assessments, plus, in measuring the efficacy of various kinds of medical treatments and therapies. Methods such as this are urgently needed to support children’s upcoming development and lifelong neurocognitive performance. The team believes their invention could make a huge global impact, possibly being adaptable for other patient groups such as older children and even elderly people.
Source study: Nature – Intelligent wearable allows out-of-the-lab tracking of developing motor abilities in infants