Unsupervised IMU-based evaluation of at-home exercise programmes: A feasibility study
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Komaris, D.S., Tarfali, G., O’Flynn, B. and Tedesco, S. (2022) ‘Unsupervised IMU-based evaluation of at-home exercise programmes: A feasibility study’, BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation, 14, article no. 28.
Background: The benefits to be obtained from home-based physical therapy programmes are dependent on the proper execution of physiotherapy exercises during unsupervised treatment. Wearable sensors and appropriate movement-related metrics may be used to determine at-home exercise performance and compliance to a physical therapy program. Methods: A total of thirty healthy volunteers (mean age of 31 years) had their movements captured using wearable inertial measurement units (IMUs), after video recordings of five different exercises with varying levels of complexity were demonstrated to them. Participants were then given wearable sensors to enable a second unsupervised data capture at home. Movement performance between the participants’ recordings was assessed with metrics of movement smoothness, intensity, consistency and control. Results: In general, subjects executed all exercises similarly when recording at home and as compared with their performance in the lab. However, participants executed all movements faster compared to the physiotherapist’s demonstrations, indicating the need of a wearable system with user feedback that will set the pace of movement. Conclusion: In light of the Covid-19 pandemic and the imperative transition towards remote consultation and tele-rehabilitation, this work aims to promote new tools and methods for the assessment of adherence to home-based physical therapy programmes. The studied IMU-derived features have shown adequate sensitivity to evaluate home-based programmes in an unsupervised manner. Cost-effective wearables, such as the one presented in this study, can support therapeutic exercises that ought to be performed with appropriate speed, intensity, smoothness and range of motion.