Gandolla Marta (Corresponding), Ferrante Simona, Costa Andrea, Bortolotti Dario, Sorti Stefano, Vitale Federico, Bocciolone Marco, Braghin Francesco, Masiero Stefano and Pedrocchi Alessandra, Senior Member, IEEE
Aquatic exercises have been demonstrated to benefit the facilitation of motor recovery and the enhancement of well-being in middle-aged adults and the elderly. Personalization, immersiveness, and biofeedback are key for amplifying and accelerating any rehabilitation process in neurological and orthopedic patients. However, a therapist can neither properly visualize nor monitor rehabilitation exercises executed under water, nor can he/she measure them. Therefore, this paper aims to provide adaptive biofeedback during aquatic exercises in order to enhance the training’s effectiveness. A wearable biofeedback suit equipped with wearable underwater-resistant sensor nodes has been designed, produced, and tested. A dedicated algorithm for quantitatively extracting joint angles has been developed and validated against the optical tracking system. Multiple biofeedback modalities are proposed based on visual feedback: amplitude control with set target angles; velocity-amplitude control with set target angles and angular velocity; and velocity tutor with set target angles, a frequency value, and a rest period. Joint angles estimated using the sensor network are compared to those estimated using an optical tracking system with the rootmean-squared angle error between the two systems ranging from 4.0° to 6.3° and a significant correlation coefficient that is always greater than 0.99. Pilot tests during aquatic exercises executed in a thermal environment demonstrate the feasibility and usability of the complete system in the final working environment. The relevant angles are correctly calculated and monitored online during the exercises, and the tested subjects understand the implemented biofeedback modalities easily and follow them well as the SUS evaluation indicates.
Aquatic rehabilitation, biofeedback, IMU, realtime movement tracking, rehabilitation, underwater movement tracking