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Research Papers

Design and Evaluation of an Instrumented Wobble Board for Assessing and Training Dynamic Seated Balance

[+] Author and Article Information
Andrew D. Williams

Department of Biomedical Engineering,
Research Transition Facility,
University of Alberta,
8308-114 Street,
Edmonton, AB T6G 2V2, Canada
e-mail: aw7@ualberta.ca

Quinn A. Boser

Department of Biomedical Engineering,
Research Transition Facility,
University of Alberta,
8308-114 Street,
Edmonton, AB T6G 2V2, Canada
e-mail: boser@ualberta.ca

Animesh Singh Kumawat

Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education,
University of Toronto,
WS2021F, 55 Harbord Street,
Toronto, ON M5S 2W6, Canada
e-mail: animesh.kumawat@mail.utoronto.ca

Kshitij Agarwal

Department of Biomedical Engineering,
Research Transition Facility,
University of Alberta,
8308-114 Street,
Edmonton, AB T6G 2V2, Canada
e-mail: kshitij@ualberta.ca

Hossein Rouhani

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Donadeo Innovation Centre for Engineering,
University of Alberta,
9211-116 Street,
Edmonton, AB T6G 1H9, Canada
e-mail: hrouhani@ualberta.ca

Albert H. Vette

Mem. ASME
Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Donadeo Innovation Centre for Engineering,
University of Alberta,
9211-116 Street,
Edmonton, AB T6G 1H9, Canada
e-mail: albert.vette@ualberta.ca

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received August 25, 2017; final manuscript received December 5, 2017; published online February 2, 2018. Assoc. Editor: Guy M. Genin.

J Biomech Eng 140(4), 041006 (Feb 02, 2018) (10 pages) Paper No: BIO-17-1383; doi: 10.1115/1.4038747 History: Received August 25, 2017; Revised December 05, 2017

Methods that effectively assess and train dynamic seated balance are critical for enhancing functional independence and reducing risk of secondary health complications in the elderly and individuals with neuromuscular impairments. The objective of this research was to devise and validate a portable tool for assessing and training dynamic seated balance. An instrumented wobble board was designed and constructed that (1) elicits multidirectional perturbations in seated individuals, (2) quantifies seated balance proficiency, and (3) provides real-time, kinematics-based vibrotactile feedback. After performing a technical validation study to compare kinematic wobble board measurements against a gold-standard motion capture system, 15 nondisabled participants performed a dynamic sitting task using the wobble board. Our results demonstrate that the tilt angle measurements were highly accurate throughout the range of wobble board dynamics. Furthermore, the posturographic analyses for the dynamic sitting task revealed that the wobble board can effectively discriminate between the different conditions of perturbed balance, demonstrating its potential to serve as a clinical tool for the assessment and training of seated balance. Vibrotactile feedback decreased the variance of wobble board tilt, demonstrating its potential for use as a balance training tool. Unlike similar instrumented tools, the wobble board is portable, requires no laboratory equipment, and can be adjusted to meet the user's balance abilities. While future work is warranted, obtained findings will aid in effective translation of assessment and training techniques to a clinical setting, which has the potential to enhance the diagnosis and prognosis for individuals with seated balance impairments.

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Figures

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

Schematic (a) and top-view photograph (without lid) (b) of the wobble board and its components. (a) The schematic shows 1—the platform lid, 2—a steel extrusion for footrest attachment, 3—two clevis pins to secure the footrest, 4—a footrest module of adjustable height, and 5—one of five curved base modules. (b) The photograph shows an IMU housed by a custom-printed enclosure (center), a microprocessing board with universal serial bus connection (left), eight electronic vibrators held in custom-printed enclosures (midregion), and a steel bar (top) to counterbalance the footrest.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

LabVIEW interface for monitoring balance assessments, selecting vibrotactile feedback thresholds, and recording all data. The length and direction of the vector are proportional to the magnitude and direction of the feedback control signal, respectively. The rectangle on the graph represents the feedback threshold: when the vector moves outside of the rectangle (as shown here), vibrotactile cues are delivered to the sitting surface (here: via the three anterior tactors).

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

Control signal time series in AP direction during one 30 s balance trial (participant 4, base 2, eyes open) with vibrotactile feedback. The gray time series represents the control signal (tilt angle plus one half tilt velocity), whereas the black horizontal lines represent the two-sided threshold for vibrotactile feedback. Bold line segments indicate that tactors were active in the corresponding direction (front for positive AP, rear for negative AP).

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 4

Response of time-domain measures derived from AP (top) and ML (bottom) tilts to changes in base (decreased stability), eye (elimination of visual input), and vibration (addition of vibrotactile feedback) conditions. Circles indicate the estimated effect. Bars indicate the confidence intervals for effects, based on the Bonferroni-corrected confidence level (1 − αadjusted = 0.9986). Solid black bars represent significant differences between conditions. Dashed black bars represent differences that are significant only for base #2 with eyes open.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 5

Response of frequency-domain measures derived from AP (top) and ML (bottom) tilts to changes in base (decreased stability), eye (elimination of visual input), and vibration (addition of vibrotactile feedback) conditions. Circles indicate the estimated effect. Bars indicate the confidence intervals for effects, based on the Bonferroni-corrected confidence level (1 − αadjusted = 0.9986). Solid black bars represent significant differences between conditions. Dashed black bars represent differences that are significant only for base #2 with eyes open.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 6

Response of stabilogram diffusion measures derived from AP (top) and ML (bottom) tilts to changes in base (decreased stability), eye (elimination of visual input), and vibration (addition of vibrotactile feedback) conditions. Circles indicate the estimated effect. Bars indicate the confidence intervals for effects, based on the Bonferroni-corrected confidence level (1 − αadjusted = 0.9986). Solid black bars represent significant differences between conditions. Dashed black bars represent differences that are significant only for base #2 with eyes open. Dashed gray bars represent differences that are significant only for trials with eyes closed.

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