Smart Tools for a Smart Recovery

Arien Hielkema, Master of Creative Technologies (March 2015 – July 2016)
How can the use of smart wearable technology motivate a stronger adherence to strengthening exercises as part of an athlete’s injury recovery process?

People Involved:
Arien Hielkema – MCT researcher
James Charlton – Primary Supervisor
Mandy Smith – Secondary Supervisor

Abstract:
How can the use of smart wearable technology motivate a stronger adherence to strengthening exercises as part of an athlete’s injury recovery process?

Injury recovery is often perceived by athletes as being a totally separate from training. This mindset can cause mental blocks, often resulting in a slow recovery with the athlete choosing to go back to regular training instead of the strengthening and rehabilitation exercises prescribed by professionals.

The aim of this project is to understand why adherence rates to prescribed exercises affect the recovery process, with a particular focus on motivational and psychological behaviors throughout injury recovery. The research will explore the manipulation of such behaviors, with the investigation of a prototype feedback device in the form of a smart fabric knee brace. Focusing on one particular knee movement, allows the research to concentrate on the connection between motivation and adherence to prescribed exercises. In suggesting that “our behaviors are shaped by the environmental stimuli around us,” Chris Lewis implies that technology creates, and thus might be used to explore, ways to enhance the intrinsic motivation of recovering athletes.

By thinking about recovery as training, we can move past psychological barriers to adherence and improve recovery performance on all levels helping injured athletes to recover faster and return to unimpeded training.

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