University of Twente Student Theses


Wearable coach for symmetric walking

Rali, S.K. (2021) Wearable coach for symmetric walking.

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Abstract:The cartilage in hip and knee joints degenerates due to aging and continuous use (ex: walking). The walking style is altered due to this hip/knee problem, resulting in an asymmetric gait. This process has the potential to have long-term impacts on walking gait, injure healthy lower limbs, and require users to have knee/hip replacement surgery (prosthesis). Patients who have a prosthesis go through physiotherapy sessions to re-learn symmetric gait. These sessions intend to re-train the patient's kinaesthetic feedback, altered due to the asymmetric gait. Unfortunately, when patients like to practice outside therapy sessions, the feedback generally provided by the physiotherapist is unavailable. In recent years, the use of wearable devices in analyzing gait has been increasing gradually because of their size, flexibility, and functioning capabilities. This thesis aims to identify the criteria for asymmetries present in users with hip/knee prostheses and develop a wearable device to assist the user in overcoming asymmetric walking in real-time. We conducted an interview with a physiotherapist to understand the asymmetries in walking for the patients with prostheses. From the literature reading, we concluded a criterion (hypothesis based on intermediate step duration) for identifying asymmetric walking using heel-strike events. In the earlier phases, we performed experiments on users with and without prostheses to understand and determine symmetric and asymmetric walking criteria. In parallel, we designed a wearable device and developed a real-time algorithm based on the hypothesis criterion. Later in the following stages, we performed a definitive study to verify the hypothesis and the possibility to derive more criteria for addressing asymmetries in walking. However, this study’s results are not supporting the hypothesis criterion in identifying asymmetries. Also, the users with hip/knee prostheses showed diverse walking patterns, which demonstrated possibilities of asymmetries present during other walking events. This observation led to the implementation of real-time machine learning as an experiment to verify the feasibility of distinguishing symmetric and asymmetric walking. By the end of this thesis, we identified few asymmetries in walking performed by users with prostheses. Also, the standard way of employing single/multiple criteria to recognize asymmetry in walking presented by users with hip/knee prostheses requires more work to discover the appropriate criteria. Providing feedback to users is a future work to perform. However, the designed waist belt and lower back location on the human body have the ability to detect asymmetry and deliver feedback to the user for motor re-learning.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:EEMCS: Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science
Subject:50 technical science in general
Programme:Embedded Systems MSc (60331)
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