Biomechanical engineering experiences rapid development as a result of FBG sensor application to strain and deformation measurements. The use of fiber Bragg grating sensors in biomedicine is a promising new method of enhancing biomechanical studies.
Fiber Bragg gratings were proposed for use in medical applications at the end of the 20th century. Some of the applications were monitoring ultrasound fields, monitoring the temperature inside nMRI devices, foot pressure monitoring in diabetic patients, etc.
One of the first uses of FBG sensors in biomedicine was an electrically assisted ventilation device triggered by an FBG sensor. A deformable strap was placed on the patient’s chest; the strap had FBG sensors embedded into it that were measuring chest deformations that were caused by air inspiration. A threshold level was set to produce a trigger signal to stimulate the phrenic nerve. Nowadays FBG sensors are used in medical-grade textiles for healthcare monitoring.
Fiber Bragg grating sensors provide several advantages over traditional methods of measuring ligament and tendon deformation and strain, namely an opportunity to record the deformations under several postures. For example, a foot pressure sensing system with embedded FBG was presented; it contains several carefully calibrated FBG sensors in an optical fiber strand. The distribution of transversal pressure and its analysis help to indicate abnormal standing gait in diabetic patients.
The research suggests that FBG sensors are superior to traditionally used strain gauges in soft tissue strain measurement. FBGS easily adhere to a bone or a curved surface; their dimensions are more compatible with bone size than those of the strain gauges; they are easily implantable, highly accurate, and less invasive.
The use of fiber Bragg grating sensors in intervertebral disc pressure measurements is very promising as it is significantly more sensitive than other measuring methods. Moreover, the FBG sensors are more compact which allows them to be inserted through a needle, and to be used for small discs, e.g. cervical or biodegenerated.
Fiber Bragg sensors proved to be useful in a femoral prosthesis. The multiplexing ability of FB sensors allows us to place several sensors on a prosthesis surface and connect them using a single optical link to interrogate all of them. The sensors aid in locating potential failure areas in the prosthesis under normal strain conditions.
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