Smartphone Based Tele-Rehabilitation


Cardiovascular diseases are very punishing to their victims. Stroke survivors have to adapt their routines to the partial or total loss of control over one or more parts of their bodies. That lack of control can go from the lack of sensibility, to locomotion problems and to the lack of proprioception, i.e. to the loss of the sense of orientation of limbs in space.

To overcome some of the difficulties caused by the disease, patients have to undergo physiotherapy. The routine of rehabilitation that is typically applied can become tedious, repetitive and not motivational and requires travelling to a healthcare facility, which contributes to an increased emotional exhaustion. If physiotherapy could be carried out in the comfort of home, with appealing exercises that would motivate the patients, they would likely show a better emotional response and an increased commitment in recovery.

The growing dissemination of smartphones made the concept of smartphone based tele-rehabilitation possible.

Tele-rehabilitation is the rehabilitation that is carried out by patients without the physical presence of a therapist. The later receives feedback of the progress of patients remotely.

In the most industrially developed countries, almost everyone owns a smartphone and Android is the most widely employed mobile operating system. Besides that, these devices are equipped with sensors with high capabilities that can be used to evaluate training exercises.

This thesis explored the concept of a cheap alternative to the traditional methods, that can be both motivational and intuitive and that allows patients, in a more advanced phase of recovery, to carry out their physiotherapy at home, or wherever they feel more comfortable. The developed application provides intuitive and appealing games that can be used for rehabilitation purposes. To play the games, patients have to attach the smartphone to their forearm and allow the application to connect to a desktop/laptop via Bluetooth.

The games’ visual interface is displayed in the laptop/desktop monitor, providing an intuitive experience and an improved visual feedback. A pre-calibration phase ensures that all games are adapted to each individual patient’s impairments so that the games’ difficulty level is adapted to each patient needs. Movements performed during game execution are evaluated and the maximum range of movement achieved by patients is recorded for a proper physiotherapeutic evaluation.


Author: Carlos Ferreira

Type: MSc thesis

Partner: Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade do Porto

Year: 2013