ATLANTA - We put a lot of wear and tear on our knees.
"Over the last six years or so, I started running more and just working out more, just trying to be more, take care of my body better, and unfortunately my knees were not very happy with that," said Megan Denham, a senior research associate at Georgia Tech Research Institute and Center for Advanced Communications Policy.
Frequent knee pain affects about one in four adults, and Omer Inan, a professor and former discus thrower, knows all about it.
"I started to notice that I would have sometimes these sounds and kind of creaking effects coming from my knees," shared Inan, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Georgia Tech.
Now, he is the mastermind behind a wearable knee sensor, which uses microphones to measure the vibrations of the surface of the skin and listen in on the sounds the knee makes.
"You have to realize that your joints making sounds are normal," explained Caitlin Teague, a Ph.D. student at Georgia Tech.
The team did a study where it compared healthy knees to injured knees.
"What we found that an injured knee has more variability in their sounds," Inan said.
They hope to use this technology to help doctors determine whether a joint is healthy or if it needs more therapy.
"I think that by having these devices out there, we can empower patients and their families and their caregivers to have better data on the long-term basis about how their knees are doing," Inan said.
Inan said healthy young kids without any knee problems have almost no sounds produced by their knees. At least the sounds could be quiet enough where the device can't even pick it up. Healthy people age 18 and older will most likely produce sounds in their knees.