Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Elder, Steven H.

Committee Member

Burch, Reuben F., V

Committee Member

Ball, John E.

Committee Member

Macias, David M.

Committee Member

Simpson, Chartrisa LaShan

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Biomedical Engineering

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


James Worth Bagley College of Engineering


Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering


Fatigue testing of stretch sensors often focuses on high amplitude, low-cycle fatigue (LCF) behavior; however, when used for orthopaedic, athletic, or ergonomic assessments, stretch sensors are subjected to low amplitude, high-cycle fatigue (HCF) conditions. As an added layer of complexity, the fatigue testing of stretch sensors is not only focused on the life of the material comprising the sensor, but also on the reliability of the signal produced during the extension and relaxation of the sensor. Research into the development of a smart sock that can be used to measure the range of motion (ROM) of the ankle joint during athletic practices and competitions using stretch sensors is ongoing at Mississippi State University. The current smart sock prototype utilizes StretchSense™ StretchFABRIC capacitive dielectric elastomer sensors. These sensors are no longer manufactured, and FlexSense stretch sensors are being investigated as a potential replacement.

To assess the reliability of the signal of the StretchFABRIC sensors currently used in the prototype, two sensors were subjected to 25,000 cycles of fatigue, under with simultaneous capture of the capacitance. The capacitances of the fatigued sensors were then compared to the capacitance of an unfatigued StretchFABRIC sensor during participant trials. Participants completed four static movements and six dynamic gait trials using either the fatigued or unfatigued sensor. Following completion of the initial static and dynamic movements, the movements were repeated using the opposite sensor. Comparison of the fatigued sensor to the unfatigued sensor revealed an upward drift in the capacitance of the fatigued sensor for all trials.

Two FlexSense sensors were then subjected to either 450,000 or 250,000 cycles of fatigue with simultaneous capture of the signal from the sensor. To assess the signal, the peak capacitance recorded during the fatigue test was compared to the peak stretch percentage produced by the sensor. The peak displacement remained tight about the mean, while the peak stretch percentage exhibited a high level of scatter. From a materials standpoint, the sensors conformed to the Rabinowitz-Beardmore model of polymer fatigue where an initial monotonic overload of the material is followed by a transition to cyclic stability of the material.