A system to provide guidance to stroke patients during independent physiotherapy
2014-02-17T12:07:41Z (GMT) by
Stroke is a serious disease that leaves many sufferers physically disabled. Treatment resources are limited, meaning stroke patients, are in many cases, discharged prior to reaching their full potential of physical recovery. The hypothesis of this research is that a system that enables regular guided and monitored therapeutic exercises in the home can provide a means for stroke patients to achieve a higher level of physical rehabilitation. This research is based on the design, build and testing of an experimental prototype system to allow this, with the aim of investigating the feasibility and potential value for such systems. Any system to assist rehabilitation in the home must clearly be low cost, safe and easy to use. The prototype system therefore aimed to achieve these features as well as focusing on the upper limb. Literature is reviewed in the fields of stroke, human anatomy and mechanisms, motor performance, feedback during motor learning, and existing systems and technology. Interviews are also conducted with stroke physiotherapists to gain input and feedback on concepts that were generated. Although systems exist with similar aims to those mentioned in the hypothesis, there are some areas where investigation is lacking. The prototype system measures movement using a novel combination of gyro sensors and flex sensors. The prototype system is designed with a focus on the method of interaction with patients and the provision of guidance and feedback that simulates that provided by a physiotherapist. The prototype system also provides a unique combination of quantitative information to patients of their personal improvements and graphical feedback of their movements and target movements. Finally, a novel categorisation of movement synergism (a form of movement coordination) is established and a novel method for detecting movement synergism is developed and tested. Performance of the prototype hardware is tested, and it is concluded that identified requirements have been met, although variability of recorded data is high. Tests also indicate that the prototype system is capable of detecting movement synergism. Finally, a controlled test involving healthy participants is performed to investigate the efficacy of the prototype as a whole. It was found that use of the prototype system resulted in a statistically significant improvement in conformance to target movements (ρ < 0.05). Findings are discussed in detail and the hypothesis is concluded as being supported overall. Recommendations for future research are made.