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FBGs based system for muscle effort monitoring in wheelchair users

Rocha, M. ; Tavares, C. ; Nepomuceno, A. C. ; Antunes, P. ; Domingues, M. F. ; Alberto, N.

IEEE Sensors Journal Vol. 22, Nº 13, pp. 12886 - 12893, July, 2022.

ISSN (print): 1530-437X
ISSN (online):

Scimago Journal Ranking: 0,99 (in 2022)

Digital Object Identifier: 10.1109/JSEN.2022.3177889

Numerous studies have been carried out aiming to improve wheelchair users’ quality of life. Based on the muscle effort evaluation during their daily activities, wheelchair users can adopt different postures to reduce their effort. However, most of the current solutions for muscle effort assessment are affected by uncontrolled factors. Here, a solution immune to external interferences is proposed. The system, based on six fiber Bragg gratings embedded in epoxy resin, was distributed on both arms of six wheelchair users’ volunteers. The arms’ muscle effort was estimated through the fiber Bragg grating’s wavelength shift, which was related with the epoxy resin deformation during some of the wheelchair users’ daily movements, such as horizontal plane locomotion (using different wheelchair hand movement patterns), ramp up and down, and dips. The slightest hand clearance, in relation to the rim (pattern A), implies smaller sensor deformations and, therefore, a lower effort. Comparing to pattern A, volunteer 5 increased 17% its effort in pattern B and 27% in pattern D, in the left bicep sensor. Also, ramp displacements require higher muscle effort, in relation to the horizontal plane. Of all the exercises performed, dips involve the most intense arms’ muscle effort (volunteer 5 had an 82% deformation increase, comparing to pattern A, in the left bicep sensor). The developed system revealed promising results, providing deeper knowledge about the muscle effort during daily movements. Based on this information they can adopt different postures, resulting in minor muscle fatigue, and consequently an improvement of their quality of life.