On a typical day, Americans walk an average of 3,000 to 4,000 steps. For most people, walking is a natural act, and they don’t give it a second thought. However, although a single step can seem insignificant, the way people walk is actually a key indicator of overall health, injury, and recovery.
StrideLink, a new shoelace-sized wearable device created by Georgia Tech College of Engineering students, has the potential to advance standard physical therapy practices. With a unique step recognition algorithm, the device can collect more concrete data about an individual’s walking patterns. This can help physical therapists with a gait analysis, which is the study of the body’s motion to measure body movements, mechanics, and muscle activity.
Gait analysis can be important when making medical diagnoses and recovery plans, especially for stroke and cerebral palsy patients, in chiropractic practices, and more. Currently, gait analysis was measured only by the naked eye as physical therapists watched their patients walk and noted any patterns or errors, making the process highly subjective and prone to error.
“When many older people fall, it's really physically traumatic, in addition to greatly affecting their families and their quality of life,” said Marzeah Khorramabadi, a fifth-year computer engineering student and co-founder of StrideLink. “We took a step back and asked ourselves, ‘Why do geriatric patients fall?’ It all boils down to how we walk.”
Both of Khorramabadi's parents were entrepreneurs, inspiring her to pursue her own business venture one day. When it came time to make a college decision, the CREATE-X Startup Launch program drew Khorramabadi to Georgia Tech. CREATE-X’s Startup Launch is a program for Georgia Tech students who want to design and launch their projects into viable startups. Three years later, Khorramabadi and fellow co-founder Cassandra McIltrot created StrideLink and entered the Startup Launch.