Assessing and improving the mobility of wheelchair users

Assessing and improving the mobility of wheelchair users: a mobility tracker for wheelchair users which treats wheelchair and user as a single system. Ildar Farkhatdinov, Dylan Morrissey, Kaspar Althoefer, Stuart Millar (Queen Mary University of London, QMUL)

There are around 1.2 million wheelchair users in the UK and many of them have limited access to social and healthcare due to limited mobility and increasing pressure on the NHS.

A possible motivation for the wheelchairs users to keep fit is to introduce suitable mobility tracking technologies. Compare to walking trackers there are almost no feasible solutions for wheelchair users.

We propose to develop a mobility tracker for wheelchair users. Such system will be user-centred, inexpensive and adaptable to passive and active wheelchairs. The tracker will be based on combining smartphone navigation data and wheelchairs kinematics. It will give an estimate of the user mobility during wheelchair propulsion (differences of the wheelchair and user movements) and overall navigation path and user efforts (total movement). The wheelchair movement will be tracked with the help of rotary sensor and a microcontroller wirelessly connected to the user’s smartphone. Optional auditory and visual feedback will be used to inform the user about the tracking. Collected data will be automatically analysed and an estimate of the user’s efforts will be available for the user and relevant social/healthcare professionals.

With the help of our system, we shall investigate how different wheelchair propulsion patterns affect the fitness of their users. The outcomes of the project will have a direct impact on the wheelchair users (including elderly population) fitness and their motivation to increase their activities.