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Innovation application: Postural Balance Assessment Pprototype

Title Postural Balance Assessment Pprototype, Testing Methodology and Data Processing Software

Even minor imbalances reduce human mobility and affect their physical activity and psychosocial activity. Several organs are involved in postural balance functionality (mainly they are three basic groups: vestibular system, vision and proprioception). Any deviation during execution of the specific vestibular test may indicate a possible disorder in one of the organs or their groups. Accordingly, early diagnostics facilitates faster rehabilitation and recovery processes, timely addressing the relevant medical specialist, as well as engaging in vestibular rehabilitation processes. RTU offers the postural balance assessment prototype, testing methodology and data processing software.

Keywords balance, Postural Balance Diagnostic System, microcontroller, tensoresistor
Authors Aleksandrs Gorbunovs
Žanis Timšāns
Atis Kapenieks
Rūdolfs Gulbis
Department (23041) Tālmācības studiju centrs
Statistical Classification of Economic Activities, NACE 2 Manufacture of machinery and equipment n.e.c.
Scientific research and development
Description of the technology

The force plate is build utilizing strain gauge load cells – two pairs, one for each of the two axes are connected in Wheatstone bridge circuit and connected to amplifying device. Electrical resistance emitted by sensors are then converted into digital signal using Arduino microcontroller which then communicates with a PC.

Fig. 1. Force plate.

Human postural balance diagnostics system in a form of prototype has developed. The system (Fig.1) records the center of pressure (COP) signal from embedded into the force plate load sensors (tenzoresistors) and transforms this signal into measuring parameters. System consists of two main parts: (1) force plate device and (2) software package which can be run on any typical computer (PC), e.g. laptop.

PC is equipped with software package that is able to provide biofeedback during the test as well as record the raw COP data, participants’ details, and calculated measures (such as COP score).

Development language used is the Processing which is based on JAVA. Recoded data is in a form of a CSV files. Data visualization application provides option to load a repository of CSV files with an option to select each individual participant to view his/her balance measures.

Arduino community has developed its own version of open source programming language which is based upon Java but also utilizes many C/C++ programming language libraries. In this project Arduino Integrated Development Environment (IDE) is used to drive hardware and is considered as device layer of software package. “HX711.h” library is used for calibration and data transmission.

Application layer was developed using Java based programming IDE called Processing. It is open source programming language that presents its users with wide range of libraries and build-in functions to ease up the coding process.

Processing was used to develop biofeedback interface, data collection, and analysis applications for PC.

Applications Many of physical functional impairments are closely related to the function of the central nervous system, and in particular to balance ability. Early diagnostics contribute to faster person’s rehabilitation and recovery, timely getting appointment to medical specialist, and involvement in vestibular rehabilitation processes. Studies, carried out in Latvian schools, shown the serious balance problems among adolescents. So, every year, starting from the first beginning school day, in addition to the measurement of pupils' physical parameters, it would be useful to assess the initial state of pupils’ postural balance capacity using the newly developed postural balance prototype. When detecting possible abnormalities, the timely advice would be given to pupils’ parents. Postural balance diagnostics is also very useful in sports and in improving people life quality.

An easy-to-understand, intuitive, and effective work interface for the postural balance test performance report has been developed. Technological validation is carried out both in laboratory conditions and artificially created environment by testing technology activities in the target group (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2. Postural balance test fulfilment.

The prototype offers quick and effective postural balance functional capability testing.

Compared to commercial products (such as the Biosway equipment offered by the US company Biodex), the prototype offers a number of advantages:

  • At least 10 times cheaper than commercial Biosway equipment;
  • Ability to perform measurements that cannot be provided by Biosway - to test persons weighing less than 40 kg;
  • Wider operating conditions - temperatures range: -20~65°C (the Biosway has just 0-40oC temperatures range);
  • Lighter: 5,9 kg (the Biosway weights 8,6 kg);
  • More compact;
  • Less power supply – could be operated via USB port from the laptop (the Biosway needs 115V/ 230VAC, 50/60 HZ, 15 amp line, APS power supply);
  • Unique open source software has been developed for the prototype (currently competing companies use ready-made software, mostly MatLab, which in some ways limits the possibilities of further commercialization);
  • Intuitive, attractive and encouraging interface for kids.

The proposed technology can be used in several areas: rehabilitation, health care, education, sports, active aging, etc.

The tested person himself or the staff member of the medical (rehabilitation, sports, education) institution can follow his balance on display, as well as analyze the results of the balancing tests presented, which are visualized in a comprehensible and easily perceptible manner. The test results are compiled in the form of csv files, thus ensuring compatibility with other technologies and allowing data processing with different data processing programs.

Technology Readiness Level Technology validated in relevant environment
Partnership offer • Commercial contract. • Joint venture.
ID 135
Contact information Linda Šufriča, e-mail: inovacijas@rtu.lv; phone.: 28442736