Computing and Information Systems - Theses

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    Designing a tangible user interface for the learning of motor skills in spinal mobilisation
    Chacon Salas, Dimas Antony ( 2018)
    Current techniques in the learning of psychomotor skills in physiotherapy, especially in spinal mobilisation, follow the traditional classroom approach: an expert performs a demonstration and students try to emulate the task by practising on each other while receiving mostly verbal feedback from the instructor. The introduction of a tailored tangible user interface would overcome the limitation of requiring the presence of a tutor and an extra fellow student, improving the scalability of the teaching delivery, and provide more objective feedback. Inspired by this opportunity, this work presents SpinalLog, a visuo-haptic interface that replicates the shape and deformable sensation of a human lower spine for the learning of spinal mobilisation techniques by employing conductive foam. This smart material is used simultaneously to sense vertebral displacements and provide passive haptic feedback to the user, emulating the flexibility of a spine. However, there is a need to understand the impact of the feedback provided in the learning of spinal mobilisation. Therefore, this work aims to design and implement SpinalLog to improve the teaching of this activity, and to investigate the effect of visual feedback, deformable haptic perception and shape fidelity in the learning of this delicate psychomotor task. We evaluated each of these three features—Visual Feedback, Passive Haptic Feedback, and Physical Fidelity—in the first part of an experiment to understand their effects on physiotherapy students' ability to replicate a mobilisation pattern recorded by an expert. Whereas in the second and last part of the experiment we presented the full features of our system to the students to gather their viewpoint for future improvement. From the first part of the experiment, we found that simultaneous feedback has the largest effect, followed by passive haptic feedback. The high fidelity of the interface has little quantitative effect, but it plays an important role in students' perceptions of the benefit of the system. From the second part of the experiment, we found that students had a favourable view on the SpinalLog suggesting improvements for the shape fidelity and the visual components.