A special glove that, literally, sees the tendons, muscles and ligaments of the hand moving and interacting with bones: the prototype, developed by researchers from the New York University School of Medicine (USA), is a progression of normal magnetic resonance imaging and will be able to be used to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome and other hand strain injuries with an extremely high degree of accuracy. As written by the study authors in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering, the special glove has a much higher ability to solve problems than traditional resonance imaging, thanks to sophisticated technical advances.
In brief, the bioengineers used so-called high impedance magnets, particularly suited to measuring soft moving structures like cartilage and tissue. These magnets, which are usually placed inside the resonance device, were inserted into a cotton glove instead. The new equipment, which will still require many tests before obtaining the final go-ahead could also be very useful – write researchers – for the early detection and treatment of a series of typical professional illnesses affecting sportspeople, musicians and workers that use their hands a lot and are therefore at higher risk.
“Our results are the first demonstration of magnetic resonance technology that is so flexible and sensitive that it can capture the mechanical complexity of the soft tissue of the hand” – writes Bei Zhang, researcher at the Center for Advanced Imaging Innovation and Research in New York University. Since its debut in the 1970s, magnetic imaging has contributed to the diagnosis of a large number of different illnesses, from brain tumors to internal haemorrhaging, to pulled ligaments.
Despite this success, however, imaging continues to have great difficulty in “seeing” certain types of soft tissue. Now this experimental glove made in New York is opening new doors. To find out more, read the article in Nature or Science Daily.