IR Therapy to Improve Knee and Joint Movement

About: The BCAMRL is a Mechatronics Research Lab, founded in 2014 on the campus of Bergen County Academies, a magnet high school within the Bergen County Technical School District. Students create innovations base...

The occurrence of arthritis significantly affects an individual’s ability to work and perform common daily tasks. For instance arthritis poses a challenge in one’s ability to walk, climb stairs, kneel, reach, maintain the house through cleaning and attend events in particular cases. This device addresses the pain that occurs when a person has arthritis by naturally healing chronic joint inflammation without any side effects through the use of infrared lights. When applied directly to the surface of the skin, infrared lights penetrate deep into the tissues and raise the body’s temperature, causing blood circulation to quickly increase, thus also causing inflammation to decrease, tight muscles to relax, and waste products that cause stiffness and soreness to be eliminated. This project provides an opportunity for anyone living with arthritis to regain joint function and mobility, allowing for an improvement in quality of life.

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Step 1: Parts List

  • Hard Cap Gel Knee Pad
  • 5 940 nm Infrared LEDs
  • 2 1×4in Blank Circuit Boards
  • 1 3×4in Transparent Plastic
  • Switch
  • 3V Battery
  • 1 Red LED
  • Wires

Step 2: Planning and Research

The idea for the project was to use infrared light to naturally and painlessly heal chronic joint inflammation and pain without any side effects. When applied directly to the skin, infrared lights can penetrate up to 20 to 100 millimeters deep into body tissue, largely due to its for its high energy and ability to resist reflection and absorption. Due to the mitochondria being very sensitive to light, the application of infrared light can stimulate ATP production. The increase in ATP production then stops the release of pain signals to the brain. In addition, when infrared lights are applied directly to the skin, the light stimulates the release of nitric oxide from hemoglobin directly into the bloodstream, for the nitric oxide enters the muscle cells in walls of the blood vessels. This causes the muscle cells to then relax as the blood vessel diameter enlarges, thus allowing more blood to flow through the vessels. Due to inflammation occurring when oxygen levels are too low, an increase in blood flow via nitric oxide has the ability to reduce inflammation in the patient.

Step 3: Creating the Structure

The first step to create the product is to design the backbone structure. To do so, a 2 by 4 inch rectangle was cut out of a kneepad to make the slot for the circuit board to fit into.

Step 4: Including the Light and the Switch

Two equidistant holes were drilled on the hard-capped front of the kneecap towards the top. Inside one hole, an LED was inserted. Inside the second, a switch was inserted.

Step 5: Electronics

A series circuit was created by soldering the 5 infrared LEDs in a row on a 1×4in blank circuit board. Wires connected the positive and negative ends of the LEDs. Due to the infrared LEDs being invisible to the naked eye, a camera of a mobile phone can be used to ensure that the LEDs are working (a purple glow in the place of the LEDs should occur in the camera).

Step 6: Creating the Cover

The circuit boards were inserted into the aperture made in the kneepad. The locations for six infrared LEDs were marked, leaving four rows in between each column of LEDs. A 2.25 by 4 inch rectangle of plastic was cut, making sure that the size of the rectangle was slightly larger than the slot (in the kneepad) to force it bend when placed inside, allowing it become a transparent cover over the LEDs. The marked locations on the plastic had to be cut in order to form holes for the LEDs to fit into. This was done using a screwdriver

Step 7: Supporting Documentation

Supporting documentation on the development of innovation.



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