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Thermal time constant : optimizing the skin temperature predictive modelling in lower limb prostheses using Gaussian processes

Mathur, Neha and Glesk, Ivan and Buis, Adrianus (2016) Thermal time constant : optimizing the skin temperature predictive modelling in lower limb prostheses using Gaussian processes. IET Healthcare Technology Letters, 3 (2). 98 – 104.

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Elevated skin temperature at the body/device interface of lower-limb prostheses is one of the major factors that affect tissue health. The heat dissipation in prosthetic sockets is greatly influenced by the thermal conductive properties of the hard socket and liner material employed. However, monitoring of the interface temperature at skin level in lower-limb prosthesis is notoriously complicated. This is due to the flexible nature of the interface liners used impeding the required consistent positioning of the temperature sensors during donning and doffing. Predicting the in-socket residual limb temperature by monitoring the temperature between socket and liner rather than skin and liner could be an important step in alleviating complaints on increased temperature and perspiration in prosthetic sockets. To predict the residual limb temperature a machine learning algorithm - Gaussian processes is employed, which utilizes the thermal time constant values of commonly used socket and liner materials. This study highlights the relevance of thermal time constant of prosthetic materials in Gaussian Processes technique which would be useful in addressing the challenge of non-invasively monitoring the residual limb skin temperature. With the introduction of thermal time constant in the covariance function, the model can be optimized and generalized for a given prosthetic setup, thereby making the predictions more reliable.