MU Orthopaedics partnered with the Army Ants—a FIRST® Robotics Competition team made up of 36 high school students from Columbia, MO—to develop SPOCKS, a Sensor Platform for Orthopedic Compliance after Knee Surgery. SPOCKS is a wearable platform for monitoring patient compliance following total knee replacement.
The device was submitted in the FIRST® Innovation Challenge competition, and the Army Ants were one of 116 teams out of 882 submissions worldwide to compete as semi-finalists. After competing in semi-finals, the team was selected as one of 20 team finalists! Eleven of the 20 finalists are in the United States, and the Army Ants submission is the only finalist from the Midwest. The next step is the FIRST® Global Innovation Awards, which will take place virtually June 25-30, 2021, with the Awards Show broadcast on June 30.
The FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics community prepares young people for the future through a suite of inclusive, team-based robotics programs. The organization hosts regional and national robot competitions to build interest in STEM nationwide. The Army Ants team resides on the University of Missouri campus and is mentored by Biomedical, Biological and Chemical Engineering Chair Kevin Gillis, Biological Sciences Professor Anand Chandrasekhar and engineer Andy Winslow. Gillis reached out to the Department of Orthopaedics and the Army Ants team met with faculty and staff to discuss the design and how to make it functional for patients and how providers could monitor activity and adherence after surgery.