If you injure yourself while taking part in sports, would you know about it? For disabled athletes who participate in fast-paced sports such as wheelchair basketball or sit-skiing, the reality is that they can end up with undiagnosed injuries in the parts of their body with reduced sensation.
These injuries may be left untreated and can develop into performance-hindering or even life-threatening conditions.
But students from Imperial College London have come up with a possible solution: smart injury detection clothing, called Bruise, which changes colour on impact, helping to assess any injuries more quickly and enabling athletes to seek appropriate medical treatment.
The Bruise trousers use a recyclable pressure-reactive film to indicate the severity of injuries. The trousers are made from sweat-wicking stretch fabric for a comfortable, supportive fit, and mesh inserts and ergonomic seams are designed to offer breathability and freedom of movement.
High-risk areas are covered with disposable film inserts. If an area is excessively stressed during an accident, this film will irreversibly change colour. As a result, after training or competing, any injured areas can be easily spotted and dealt with.
The initial idea for the Bruise sportswear came from a talk given by Paralympic skier Talan Skeels-Piggins, who mentioned how often he was involved in crashes and the complications associated with detecting and assessing the severity of injuries.
While they were developing the prototypes, the designers organised workshops and interviews with Paralympic athletes and manufactured and tested a wide range of materials and structures that could visualise impact. The team also worked with athletes in real training settings to help them understand how to improve the design.
In the future the designers plan to develop an entire bruise suit, making the technology suitable for people competing in a wider range of sports.