UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An evaluation of the use of vibrotactile cues in bilateral upper-limb motion training with healthy adults and hemiparetic individuals Hung, Chai-Ting


Due to limited therapeutic resources and the high cost of therapist-administered treatments, victims of neurological trauma such as stroke need alternate solutions, e.g., virtual rehabilitation trainers. Effective virtual trainers can also benefit able-bodied people in tasks involving motor learning or motion refining. Since real-time instructional cues, provided through various sensory channels (visual, auditory, and haptic), function in the same way as human trainers, automated feedback systems are gaining momentum in the motor learning and retraining field. Given that most daily tasks require coordination of both arms, the aim of this thesis is to evaluate the potential of utilizing real-time corrective vibrotactile (vibration) feedback to facilitate a training regime for simultaneous, bilateral arm motions. To address the research goal, the author designed and developed a low-cost, upper-arm, motion training system consisting of a wireless, wearable sleeve-armband device with embedded vibration motors, a vision-based bimanual motion tracker, and real-time stimulus-response control and data logging software. Since there are two logical, but different, movement responses a person might have toward directional vibrotactile cues, i.e., moving towards or away from a stimulus, the first study investigated if an intuitive and consistent response exists among participants. This study also investigated if providing stimuli using different actuator configurations could facilitate a more consistent response among participants. The study results showed high variability in participants’ motion response to vibrotactile cues regardless of the actuator configurations. Thus, researchers should account for the perceptual differences among individuals and avoid training users with an unintuitive vibration response that could affect the outcome measures. The second study evaluated the motion training system with both hemiparetic stroke survivors and healthy adults. Prior to assessing the training system, the experimenter set up a customized game and task path based on each participant’s reaching pattern and trained the participants’ reaction toward vibrotactile cues based on their own preferences. Vibrotactile training was found to successfully alter healthy participants’ original trajectories and to increase the end-position precision of the stroke participants’ affected hand and bimanual coordination. These results suggest the promising use of vibrotactile feedback in bilateral motion training for both healthy and hemiparetic stroke populations.

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