Cardiovascular diseases are the main cause of death in the world and its occurrence is closely related to arterial stiffness. Arterial stiffness is commonly evaluated by analysing the arterial pulse waveform and velocity, with electromechanical pressure transducers, in superficial arteries such as carotid, radial and femoral. In order to ease the acquisition procedure and increase the patients comfort during the measurements, new optical fibre techniques have been explored to be used in the reliable detection of arterial pulse waves, due to their small size, high sensitivity, electrical isolation and immunity to electromagnetic interference. More specifically, fibre Bragg gratings (FBGs) are refractive index modulated structures engraved in the core of an optical fibre, which have a well-defined resonance wavelength that varies with the strain conditions of the medium, known as Bragg wavelength. In this work, FBGs were embedded in a commercial resin, producing films that were used to assess the arterial pulse in superficial locations such as carotid, radial and foot dorsum. The technique proved to be a promising, comfortable and trustworthy way to assess the arterial pulses, with all the optical fibre use advantages, in a non-intrusive biomedical sensing procedure. Examples of possible applications of the developed structures are smart skin structures to monitor arterial cardiovascular parameters, in a stable and reliable way, throughout daily activities or even during exams with high electromagnetic fields, such as magnetic resonance imaging.
This work consists on the design and implementation of a compact and accurate biaxial optical fiber sensor (OFS) based on two in-line fiber Bragg gratings (FBGs) for the simultaneous measurement of shear and vertical forces. The two FBGs were inscribed in the same optical fiber and placed individually in two adjacent cavities. In the calibration and performance tests, the response from the optical fiber cells was compared with the values given by a three-axial electronic force sensor. Sensitivity values obtained for the FBG1 are K<sub>1V</sub>= (14.15±0.10) pm/N (vertical force) and K<sub>1S</sub>= (-26.02±0.08) pm/N (shear force) and for the FBG2 are K<sub>2V</sub>= (7.35±0.02) pm/N and K<sub>2S</sub>= (-24.29±0.08) pm/N. The conversion of the Bragg wavelength shift, given by the optical fiber sensors, into the shear and vertical force values is also presented along with its comparison to the values retrieved by an electronic sensor, yielding to low RMSE values, which shows the high accuracy of the algorithm applied. This work stands out from the others with optical fiber by the simplicity of its structure. The proposed solution represents a compact and reliable device for simultaneous measurement of shear and vertical forces, useful in several areas, such as: incorporation into insoles for plantar pressure and shear force measurement; electronic skin technologies; smart rehabilitation robotic exoskeletons; or even biomimetic prosthesis.
In an era of unprecedented progress in technology and increase in population age, continuous and close monitoring of elder citizens and patients is becoming more of a necessity than a luxury. Contributing toward this field and enhancing the life quality of elder citizens and patients with disabilities, this work presents the design and implementation of a noninvasive platform and insole fiber Bragg grating sensors network to monitor the vertical ground reaction forces distribution induced in the foot plantar surface during gait and body center of mass displacements. The acquired measurements are a reliable indication of the accuracy and consistency of the proposed solution in monitoring and mapping the vertical forces active on the foot plantar sole, with a sensitivity up to 11.06 pm/N. The acquired measurements can be used to infer the foot structure and health condition, in addition to anomalies related to spine function and other pathologies (e.g., related to diabetes); also its application in rehabilitation robotics field can dramatically reduce the computational burden of exoskeletons’ control strategy. The proposed technology has the advantages of optical fiber sensing (robustness, noninvasiveness, accuracy, and electromagnetic insensitivity) to surpass all drawbacks verified in traditionally used sensing systems (fragility, instability, and inconsistent feedback).