Implementing EMG-Driven Exergaming into a Mobile Fitness Monitoring System Designed For In-Home Exercise in Wheelchairs

This thesis project encompasses the design, development, and implementation of an electromyography-driven exergaming fitness monitoring system for the facilitation of in-home exercise for wheelchair users. This proof of concept design explores the concept of incorporating commercially available wireless EMG sensors into a mobile exercise-based gaming environment as a means of motivating wheelchair users to exercise in the convenience of their own home as a cost-effective alternative to traditional workout facilities. A mobile app consisting of three EMG-driven exergames was developed to support one of three exercise modes - cardio, aerobic, and resistance - pertaining to an SCI-specific workout protocol. The scoring system utilizes a dual-threshold based algorithm to reliably detect individual muscle contractions and assign virtual progress based on physical effort, derived from maximum voluntary contraction, age, height, mass, and maximum heart rate. Real-time physiological monitoring encourages users to maintain their pace and issues alerts to rest when overexertion is detected to ensure user activity remains within safe conditions. Other forms of feedback include Calories burned and historical trend summaries. Multiplayer features allow users to either replay the progress from previously recorded sessions as a virtual opponent or compete against another live player. The mobile app prototype was benchmarked for acquisition accuracy, transmission reliability, and power consumption. Such tests revealed that the sensors can transmit with zero packet loss within 18m under unobstructed line of sight conditions and can support up to 3.19 hours of continuous use with a single battery. An 8-week in-home feasibility pilot study on four traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) subjects revealed increases in weekly playtime and integrated EMG among participants. Qualitative feedback also asserted improvements in motivation and ease of use as a practical workout facilitation device.