Date of Award

6-2011

Degree Name

MS in Biomedical Engineering

Department

Biomedical and General Engineering

Advisor

Dr. Lily Laiho

Abstract

This study evaluates the use of a wheelchair balance board. The balance board was created as a sensory stimulation tool for users with various disabilities. It was originally designed to create vestibular stimulation for the person after they were loaded on. This study was used as a way to test if the balance board could be used for other things such as physical therapy and exercise. Ten able-bodied individuals were used to show the functionality of the device. They were asked to perform six different abdominal exercises while the muscle activity of their rectus abdominis and external obliques was measured using EMG electrodes. The exercises performed included: abdominal crunch, reverse crunch, full vertical crunch, torso twist, seated crunch, and sitting abdominal bend down. The last three exercises were performed on both stable ground and on the wheelchair balance board. This study found that the balance board did not cause any negative effects in terms of the abdominal muscle activation. In some cases it actually increased the muscle activation compared to the stable and floor exercises. There were no cases where the balance board caused a decrease in the amount of muscle activation in comparison to the floor exercises. The highest values for any muscle group activated in the entire study was found to be on the balance board during the sitting abdominal bend down. This demonstrates that the balance board shows promise as a tool for stimulating muscles not traditionally activated for people in a wheelchair.