A Review in On-Body Compression Using Soft Actuators and Sensors: Applications, Mechanisms, and Challenges

Alireza Golgouneh, Lucy E. Dunne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Body compression through a garment or inflatable pneumatic mechanism has various applications in aesthetic, athletic, robotics, haptics, astronautics, and especially medical fields for treatment of various disorders such as varicose veins, lymphedema, deep vein thrombosis, and orthostatic intolerance. Traditionally, compression has been done through under-sized (e.g. elastic) or size-adjustable (e.g. inflatable) compression garments. Such systems are designed to apply substantially uniform pressure on the body. However, due to reasons such as anatomical variations and body posture change, different levels of compression may be applied to the body. Further, a high level of discomfort and non-compliance is reported among patients due to donning difficulties. Therefore, there have been some efforts to make compression garments smart by employing advanced functional soft materials and actuators (such as Shape Memory Alloy (SMA), Shape Memory Polymer (SMP), Electroactive polymer (EAP), etc.) as well as soft force-pressure sensors so that the compression level could be controlled and regulated for each person or specific tasks. However, despite these advances, there are still challenges to accurately controlling the on-body compression level that are mainly due to the inherent characteristics of the soft actuators or sensors and the sophisticated human body conditions. In this paper, we will first investigate the soft actuators and sensors that have the potential to be used for on-body compression applications. Then, integrated soft sensing-actuation systems for interfacial compression purposes are studied. Finally, the challenges that might be associated with this work are introduced.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Reviews in Biomedical Engineering
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:


  • Active Compression
  • Actuators
  • Clothing
  • Robot sensing systems
  • Robots
  • Sensors
  • Shape
  • Soft Actuation
  • Soft Robotics
  • Soft Sensing
  • Veins
  • Wearable Technology

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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