GB2540335A - Position correction device - Google Patents

Position correction device Download PDF

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Publication number
GB2540335A
GB2540335A GB1508080.7A GB201508080A GB2540335A GB 2540335 A GB2540335 A GB 2540335A GB 201508080 A GB201508080 A GB 201508080A GB 2540335 A GB2540335 A GB 2540335A
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person
method
characteristic
measuring
preceding
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GB201508080D0 (en
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Thomson Siobhan
Jean Thomson Barbara
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Thomson Siobhan
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Priority to GB1508080.7A priority Critical patent/GB2540335A/en
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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61BDIAGNOSIS; SURGERY; IDENTIFICATION
    • A61B5/00Detecting, measuring or recording for diagnostic purposes; Identification of persons
    • A61B5/103Detecting, measuring or recording devices for testing the shape, pattern, colour, size or movement of the body or parts thereof, for diagnostic purposes
    • A61B5/11Measuring movement of the entire body or parts thereof, e.g. head or hand tremor, mobility of a limb
    • A61B5/1116Determining posture transitions
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61BDIAGNOSIS; SURGERY; IDENTIFICATION
    • A61B5/00Detecting, measuring or recording for diagnostic purposes; Identification of persons
    • A61B5/103Detecting, measuring or recording devices for testing the shape, pattern, colour, size or movement of the body or parts thereof, for diagnostic purposes
    • A61B5/11Measuring movement of the entire body or parts thereof, e.g. head or hand tremor, mobility of a limb
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61BDIAGNOSIS; SURGERY; IDENTIFICATION
    • A61B5/00Detecting, measuring or recording for diagnostic purposes; Identification of persons
    • A61B5/45For evaluating or diagnosing the musculoskeletal system or teeth
    • A61B5/4538Evaluating a particular part of the muscoloskeletal system or a particular medical condition
    • A61B5/4561Evaluating static posture, e.g. undesirable back curvature
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61BDIAGNOSIS; SURGERY; IDENTIFICATION
    • A61B5/00Detecting, measuring or recording for diagnostic purposes; Identification of persons
    • A61B5/68Arrangements of detecting, measuring or recording means, e.g. sensors, in relation to patient
    • A61B5/6801Arrangements of detecting, measuring or recording means, e.g. sensors, in relation to patient specially adapted to be attached to or worn on the body surface
    • A61B5/6802Sensor mounted on worn items
    • A61B5/6804Garments; Clothes
    • A61B5/6805Vests
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61BDIAGNOSIS; SURGERY; IDENTIFICATION
    • A61B5/00Detecting, measuring or recording for diagnostic purposes; Identification of persons
    • A61B5/68Arrangements of detecting, measuring or recording means, e.g. sensors, in relation to patient
    • A61B5/6801Arrangements of detecting, measuring or recording means, e.g. sensors, in relation to patient specially adapted to be attached to or worn on the body surface
    • A61B5/6813Specially adapted to be attached to a specific body part
    • A61B5/6823Trunk, e.g., chest, back, abdomen, hip
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61BDIAGNOSIS; SURGERY; IDENTIFICATION
    • A61B5/00Detecting, measuring or recording for diagnostic purposes; Identification of persons
    • A61B5/74Details of notification to user or communication with user or patient ; user input means
    • A61B5/7455Details of notification to user or communication with user or patient ; user input means characterised by tactile indication, e.g. vibration or electrical stimulation
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B24/00Electric or electronic controls for exercising apparatus of preceding groups; Controlling or monitoring of exercises, sportive games, training or athletic performances
    • A63B24/0003Analysing the course of a movement or motion sequences during an exercise or trainings sequence, e.g. swing for golf or tennis
    • GPHYSICS
    • G09EDUCATION; CRYPTOGRAPHY; DISPLAY; ADVERTISING; SEALS
    • G09BEDUCATIONAL OR DEMONSTRATION APPLIANCES; APPLIANCES FOR TEACHING, OR COMMUNICATING WITH, THE BLIND, DEAF OR MUTE; MODELS; PLANETARIA; GLOBES; MAPS; DIAGRAMS
    • G09B19/00Teaching not covered by other main groups of this subclass
    • G09B19/003Repetitive work cycles; Sequence of movements
    • G09B19/0038Sports
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61BDIAGNOSIS; SURGERY; IDENTIFICATION
    • A61B2562/00Details of sensors; Constructional details of sensor housings or probes; Accessories for sensors
    • A61B2562/02Details of sensors specially adapted for in-vivo measurements
    • A61B2562/0219Inertial sensors, e.g. accelerometers, gyroscopes, tilt switches
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B2230/00Measuring physiological parameters of the user
    • A63B2230/62Measuring physiological parameters of the user posture

Abstract

A method of correcting a person's physical behaviour and improving the person's athletic performance, the method comprising: measuring a characteristic of the person's physical behaviour; determining at a computer device whether said characteristic is outside a predetermined range of values of said characteristic; applying an unconditional stimulus to the person to stimulate an unconditioned response; repeating said steps of measuring, determining and applying to stimulate an adaptation of the physical behaviour. In embodiments, the behaviour may be posture. The measurement may be carried out by one or more gyroscopes and/or accelerometers. The unconditional stimulus may be provided by a vibrator. In an embodiment the method is particularly suitable for use as a horse-riding posture correction device.

Description

POSITION CORRECTION DEVICE

This invention concerns the correction of bodily position and the improvement of athletic performance.

Background

Devices have been designed to help people improve the position of their body. Some of these devices are designed to improve posture generally while others are concerned with the position of the body in the context of sport such as horse riding, ballet, golf, tennis and cricket. Yet others are concerned to help people who have been injured or lost limbs or parts of limbs.

All of those techniques employ “cognitive learning” which involves having an understanding of the faults in one’s position so that one can use this knowledge to correct it through a conscious process of reasoning and muscle control. The success rate of such techniques is low and it is questionable whether they work at all.

Statement of invention

According to a first aspect of the invention, there is provided a method of correcting a person’s physical behaviour and improving the person’s athletic performance, the method comprising measuring a characteristic of the person’s physical behaviour, determining at a computer device whether said characteristic is outside a predetermined range of values of said characteristic, applying an unconditional stimulus to the person to stimulate an unconditioned response, repeating said steps of measuring, determining and applying to stimulate an adaptation of the physical behaviour.

In particular, the physical behaviour may be posture. The characteristic may be position and movement of a part of the person’s body along three orthogonal axes. The measuring may be carried out with one or more gyroscopes and/or accelerometers placed on the person’s body.

Said measuring may be carried out at the third thoracic vertebrae and/or at the second lumbar vertebrae and may comprise measuring at the person’s chest or shoulders or hands. A display of the measured characteristic and a horizon of said characteristic may be provided. The unconditional stimulus may be provided by a vibrator. The method may further comprise adapting said predetermined range of values or filtering an output of said measuring step for avoiding incorrect applying of the unconditioned stimulus. Said correcting may not comprise treatment of a disease.

According to a second aspect of the invention, there is provided a system for correcting a person’s physical behaviour, the system comprising means for measuring a characteristic of the person’s physical behaviour, means for determining whether said characteristic is outside a predetermined range of values of said characteristic, means for applying an unconditional stimulus to the person to stimulate an unconditional response.

Said means for measuring may comprise one or more gyroscopes and/or accelerometers and said means for determining may comprise a computing device. The means for applying may comprise a vibrator. The means for measuring may comprise one or more inertial measurement units. The system according to the second aspect of the invention may be arranged to carry out the method according to the first aspect of the invention.

Figures

Some embodiments of the invention will now be described by way of example only and with reference to the accompanying figures, in which:

Figure 1 is a drawing of a horse rider,

Figure 2 is a drawing of a horse rider with sensors,

Figure 3 is a drawing of a display,

Figure 4 illustrates a position of a sensor,

Figure 5 illustrates a flow diagram,

Figure 6 illustrates a computing device.

Detailed Description

The method described here teaches a person the correct position using conditioning techniques which takes advantage of in-built reflexes and involves no direct conscious cognitive processes. Development work done by the inventors with horse riders produced clear improvements in position in hours rather than the weeks and months needed for more conventional instruction.

As illustrated in Figure 5, the method corrects a person’s physical behaviour and improves the person’s athletic performance by measuring (S1) a characteristic of the person’s physical behaviour, determining (S2) at a computer device whether said characteristic is outside a predetermined range of values of said characteristic, then applying (S3) an unconditional stimulus to the person to stimulate an unconditioned response and, finally repeating said steps of measuring, determining and applying to stimulate an adaptation of the physical behaviour.

The device has wide applicability outside sport particularly for people with postural problems howsoever caused.

The method exploits the innate reflexes of people together with “conditioning” or “learning” paradigms to modify a person’s motor behaviour. Reflexes and Conditioning will be briefly described as background necessary to understand the manner in which the method works.

There are a number of ways in which people learn motor responses. A first type of motor response is the “reflex” which is not learned at all but is innate, that is to say, it is wired into the nervous and muscular systems.

Two reflexes are of particular relevance to this invention. The first is the “Withdrawal Reflex” known also as the “Flexor Polysynaptic Reflex”. It refers to the reflex muscular response that occurs when the skin comes into contact with a sharp object, vibration or heat. The reflex is intended to activate those muscles which move the body away from the source of stimulation. This reflex causes us to move very quickly if we stand on a nail or put our hand on something hot or on something which is vibrating. As a reflex response, it requires no thought or cognition and is mediated by the spinal cord and the brain stem. A second type of reflex of particular interest is the “Myotatic Reflex” also known as the “Stretch Reflex”. Unlike other reflexes, which are only activated occasionally, this reflex is continually active in multiple muscle groups throughout the body. Muscles have a resting state such that tension in antagonistic muscle pairs, e.g. biceps and triceps, is equal and opposite. Because of this equality the limb to which they are attached does not move. The amount of tension in the muscle pairs determines the “muscle tone” and it increases when a person is prepared for flight or fight; it reduces during relaxation and REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement sleep which is correlated with dreaming). When a muscle is stretched by having a weight attached to it for example, the muscle spindles (sensors inside the muscle) increase the frequency of the pulses that they continually send to the spinal cord. The spinal cord relays these pulses to the nerve that causes the muscle to contract so shortening the muscle and restoring its length to that prior to the weight being attached. This reflex which is entirely mediated by the peripheral nervous system, keeps us in balance and able to remain upright even when coping with fast changing events such as jumping to the ground from a high wall. It is easily observed if you hold your lower arm horizontal and try and keep it horizontal while someone places a heavy weight onto your hand. The arm will drop momentarily - a distance dependent on muscle tone in the biceps and triceps muscles - and then the biceps muscle will shorten to restore the position of the arm.

The stimulus to which the reflexive response is produced, the addition of the weight in this case, is known as the “unconditioned stimulus” (UCS) and the response which it elicits, the shortening of the biceps muscle, is known as the “unconditioned response” (UCR). These terms indicate that the response is unlearned and that the connection between the UCS and UCR is innate or built into the organism.

Another concept is “adaptation”, whereby the body re-calibrates itself as a response to changes in external stimuli. If a person wears heavy boots for a while, the response to the changed firing of the muscle spindles in the feet and legs is to recalibrate the system so that the normal walking gait is re-established. When the boots are removed, the feet feel light and the legs are lifted higher than normal when walking. The body soon recalibrates itself and normal gait is restored. This ability for the body to recalibrate is essential if people are to be able to modify their position.

Returning to reflexes, the fact that they are innate and do not have to be learnt does not mean that they cannot be modified through learning and external events. Classical Conditioning is a technique originally developed by Ivan Pavlov whereby the innate reflex of salivating (UCR) when food (UCS) is placed in the mouth was modified in dogs. Pavlov rang a bell just before puffing meat powder into a dogs mouth. After many pairings of the bell and the meat powder, the dogs began to salivate when the bell rang as it reliably predicted the occurrence of the meat powder. Pavlov called the bell the “conditioned stimulus” (CS) and this was neutral to the animal prior to the experiment, i.e. it produced no reaction in the dog. What happened during the experiment was that the reflex response UCS to UCR changed to CS to UCR. It was found that the optimal time between the CS and the UCS was half a second.

Another type of conditioning where a person learns a new stimulus and response relationship is called “Operant Conditioning” and was devised by the American Psychologist, B F Skinner. This is a process whereby animals and people are taught to respond to a stimulus through the contingent application of reinforcement. In a typical paradigm, if a rat, when presented with a light (the “Conditioned Stimulus” or CS), presses a bar (the “Conditioned Response” or CR), his behaviour is “reinforced” by following the bar press with the presentation of food. After several such trials, the rat will reliably press the bar when presented with the light. The food is the reinforcement and one interpretation of the phenomenon is that the food is pleasurable and it is this quality of reinforcement that is critical. A second interpretation is that the food provides “feedback” and that it is this “informational” aspect rather than its pleasurable quality that is important. There is research supporting both interpretations and in fact, they are not mutually exclusive. Whether it is pleasure or information, there is clear evidence that the effectiveness of reinforcement is largely determined by the interval between the onset of the response and the delivery of the reinforcement such that the most effective interval is 0.5 seconds. To summarise, the sequence of events is: Stimulus (CS), Response (CR), Reinforcement (Rft) OR Feedback (F)

Repeated occurrences of this sequence increase the probability of CR in the presence of CS. As for Classical Conditioning, the optimum time between the CR and Rft is half a second.

There is a corresponding concept called “avoidance conditioning” which shows that when a response to a stimulus is followed by a noxious event such as an electric shock or loud white noise, the response is inhibited and is less likely to occur.

While the device employs Classical rather than Operant Conditioning, the two techniques have a number of common properties in particular, motor responses learnt through either form of conditioning are resistant to forgetting and “automatic”, that is they occur very quickly without thought or reflection.

The final type of learning to be considered is “Cognitive Learning” and this usually involves verbal instruction and reasoning and is the polar opposite of reflexes. It was found that conditioning paradigms and associated theories lacked explanatory power when considering the learning of “rules”. An early example was “Harlow’s Monkeys”. The monkeys were presented with three coloured lights, two of which were the same colour. They were rewarded for choosing the light that was different from the other two - the “odd one out”. Monkeys and humans have no problem learning this rule and yet it is difficult to explain in terms of operant conditioning as there is no physical stimulus to which the response becomes attached through reinforcement. It was therefore concluded that the animal had learnt a “rule” rather than a simple association between a stimulus and a response.

These different types of learning have different characteristics with respect to their persistence, resistance to “extinction” or “unlearning” and to performance under stress. The army took two groups of men and taught them to dismantle and then re-assemble a rifle. One group was taught by rote repetition which can be likened to operant conditioning where the physical state of the rifle is the stimulus for the next response. The second group were taught “cognitively” by learning the principals of gun design and the functions of the different components.

The operant group were much faster and could complete the task in a fraction of the time needed by the cognitive group only provided that the rifle used was the same as the one on which they were trained. When presented with a different rifle, the operant group were much slower than the cognitive group. Of particular importance was behaviour under stress. When asked to complete the task while lying in mud and subjected to the noise of machine gun fire, driving rain and men shouting, the cognitive groups’ performance deteriorated badly while the operant group were remarkably little affected.

To summarise this section on conditioning, reflexes and cognitive learning: operant conditioning is used for teaching people about contingencies and does not involve any prebuilt connections between stimuli and responses. The contingency is learned through the use of feedback or reinforcement and quite frequently involve reasoning and cognition.

Classical conditioning involves learning that a previously neutral stimulus predicts the occurrence of a second stimulus which is “pre-wired” to elicit a specific response. Reflexes are innate responses to stimuli but they can be classically conditioned to neutral stimuli through repetition so that the neutral stimulus comes to reliably predict the UCS and hence invoke the UCR.

Cognitive learning requires reasoning and thought - cognitive processes - and is used to understand complex areas of knowledge such as maths, physics and philosophy. It involves the higher areas of the brain such as the cerebral cortex and is inextricably linked with memory and logical reasoning. It is the only type of learning suitable for such subject areas but it is also frequently used for tasks such as position correction where it is arguably completely inappropriate as a person’s body needs to assume the correct position without thought or reflection.

The present method is designed to enable people to learn very quickly to permanently modify their body’s position. There are many areas of human endeavour where obtaining the correct position is crucial to success, e.g. ballet, golf, shooting, horse riding and learning to use prosthetic limbs. We will use horse riding as our example activity throughout this document as it is this sport for which the method was initially developed.

Apart from a few “natural riders” most people have to work hard to acquire the correct position for riding a horse. When riding a horse, the effects of the less than perfect posture most people have when walking and sitting are exaggerated as the horse also moves and this can magnify any bias to one side or another. Some people lean too far forward, others too far backward, a large number of people sit to one side and many people “collapse” at the shoulders or hips. A lot of the asymmetry in people’s posture or position is due to them being stronger on the right or left side and this has to be overcome if they are to assume the correct position when riding.

Figure 1 shows a rider who has collapsed through her left hip and is trying to compensate for this by raising her left shoulder and twisting her upper body to the right. Riders spend many months and years trying to perfect their position with instructors attempting to spot what is being done wrong and then trying to correct it by instruction. There are a number of devices on the market which film the rider often with lights attached to the joints - elbows, knees, etc. The film is then played back to the rider and the instructor points out where the position is wrong and what they should do to correct it. Such training requires many, many sessions over weeks, months and years and even then people often revert to their old position after a break or a period of no instruction.

In general, such methods are quite ineffective and if they work at all, it takes many months for the rider to modify their position.

The fastest way for the body to learn motor responses is through conditioning where immediate sensory feedback rather than cognitive feedback is provided. The method disclosed herein uses an “Inertial Measurement Unit” (IMU) to measure changes in the riders position and this information is transmitted wirelessly to a computer via a control box which is attached to the rider. A computer program determines if the change is a transient and if not, compares the new position against pre-set criteria. If the new position is outside the criteria, then a signal is sent back via the control box to a vibrator attached to a vest and centred over the part of the body which has moved. The vibration persists until the rider corrects their position by moving away from the vibration. The control box contains batteries to power the IMU’s and Vibrators as well as a Blue Tooth device for communication with the computer program. Alternatively, a measurement unit, a signal processor and a feedback signal are all provided at the site of the user. IMU’s may be very small and require little power so that they can be run from a low voltage battery and are small and light enough to be attached to clothing without the wearer noticing. The IMU contains a gyroscope and an accelerometer which allows the measurement of position and movement in 3 planes. Examples of IMUs used in the method weigh six grams each and measure 30mm x 20mm x 5mm. For horse riding, two IMU’s may be used, one placed in the centre of the person’s back over the third thoracic vertebrae, and a second one also placed over the spine but much lower over the second lumbar vertebrae in line with the tops of the ileum on the pelvis. These positions were found to be optimal for measuring: 1) Forward/backward lean - riders move forward and back through movement of the upper thoracic part of the spine rather than as a movement of the lumbar region; 2) The raising of one shoulder and lowering the other which causes the IMU to rotate to the left or right. 3) The lower IMU is sensitive to the horizontal alignment of the hips as measured by a difference in height between the tops of the ileum.

Picture 2 shows the position of the IMUs as two squares 21 and 22 on a rider who is sitting incorrectly. Her left hip has collapsed causing it to be lower than the right hip. This has caused the lower IMU to rotate and this rotation is translated by the device into an electrical signal such that the voltage level and polarity is proportional to the degree and direction of rotation. The upper IMU has rotated in the other direction as she compensates for her pelvic misalignment by raising her left shoulder.

Vibrators are used to provide tactile feedback and rely on the withdrawal reflex described above for their effectiveness. When the person moves to an incorrect position, it is detected by the IMU and, via the computer program, a signal is sent to the appropriate vibrator to make it vibrate against the person so that they move their body away from the vibration in a withdrawal reflex and correct their position. In the example shown in the picture, a vibrator on top of her left shoulder would be activated causing her to lower it and a vibrator placed on her right hip will cause her to rotate her pelvis and so realign her hips

The vibrators used in an example are similar to those found in mobile phones and weigh 6 grams and measure 50mm x 30mm x 10mm. They are low voltage devices and receive both power and signals from the same control box described above. The vibration is powerful enough to be easily detectable through light clothing and to elicit a withdrawal reflex. It is not so powerful as to be painful or disturbing.

The control box is strapped around the riders waist. It is, for example, 15cm x 4cm x 3cm and contains rechargeable batteries and the electronics to send the output of the IMO wirelessly to a computer. It also receives signals from the computer and decodes these causing the correct vibrator to be activated. The wireless transmission is performed using the Bluetooth protocol. If a greater range is needed, alternative wireless protocols than Bluetooth can be used. A computer program receives the signals from the control box through either a blue tooth or radio link and may display the rider’s changing position graphically using an artificial horizon model similar to that used in airplanes control panels. This allows the riders position to be observed in two planes: forward and back and horizontal rotation. Two artificial horizon displays are used, one for the shoulders and one for the hips as previously described. A picture of the screen display is shown in figure 3.

Figure 3 illustrates a display of a central device showing a rider 31. An artificial horizon 32 for the shoulders of the rider is displayed to show a deviation of the position of the shoulders from a central position. A second artificial horizon 33 for the hips of the rider is displayed to show a deviation of the hips from a central position.

The software allows the instructor to configure two sets of thresholds for each of the vibrators. These are the points at which the vibrators will be energised, e.g. they may decide that leaning forward by more than 10° should always cause the vibrator on the rider’s chest to be activated and correspondingly, leaning backwards by 10° will always cause the vibrator on the person’s back to be energised. These are called the “Maximum Values”.

The system will start with these maximum values set and then the software will constantly measure the number of times a vibrator is activated and reduce the tolerance until it is being activated around 30% (say) of the time. As the rider’s position improves, the threshold is adjusted to maintain the 30% error rate until a new threshold is reached - one which is considered to be the best that can be achieved; at this point the threshold is adjusted no further. These are called the “Minimum Values”.

The software allows the various vibrators to be turned on or off as it is usually better to concentrate on one positional problem at a time.

In order not to respond to short transient changes in position which can occur if a horse trips for example, the data is passed through a Kalman filter which blocks high frequency changes and which can be tuned to suit the type of measurement being made.

The program continually records the rider’s position and the times at which the vibrators are activated. This data is written to a file in “CSV” format from where it can be subsequently imported into analysis programs such as Microsoft Excel. The computer program is written in Java to run on PC’s and on mobile devices such as phones and tablets.

Consider the case of a person who leans too far forward when riding. This can be a difficult habit to fix as leaning forward causes the horse to move faster to which people respond by leaning further forward in order to keep their balance. Using the invention, the device detects the rider starting to lean forward (the CS) and activates a vibrator centred over the rider’s chest. The vibration (the UCS) causes the rider to move backwards (the UCR) away from the vibration and so regain the correct position. There is another vibrator centred between the shoulder blades which will be activated if they move too far backwards.

The results of our own experimental studies have been dramatic: people have successfully modified their riding position over a thirty minute session after failing to do so with months of conventional instruction (or cognitive learning). They cannot be said to have been “cured” after such a session as the body needs to recalibrate through adaptation and this requires educating the muscles to treat their upright position as the new “zero”; however, as discussed earlier, the speed at which the body can adapt is impressive and certainly does not need weeks or months.

The IMU’s are ideal for measuring positional changes of the types described above but the basic principle of the invention is not dependent on these sensors and for some tasks they are not appropriate as in the case of training people not to pull hard on the reins when riding. Pulling is clearly a motor response but may not result in a change in position of the arm as the horse will usually pull back. What happens is that tension in the rein increases and this can be measured and modified by placing pressure sensors in the rider’s gloves together with vibrators on the back of the hands. The increase in pressure when the rider pulls the reins is sent to the computer which will activate the vibrator on the back of the hand, causing the rider to move their hands forward, thereby relaxing the reins.

The software is able to accept an input from the pressure sensors in the gloves and to activate the vibrators in the same manner as for the positional changes.

As an example, the optimum delay between the subject making a response and the consequent feedback may be around 0.5 seconds. The method allows this to be achieved as the often small changes in position are detected immediately and the computer program can determine the length of the delay before the vibrators are activated. It is impossible for a human instructor to achieve this over a training period.

The method is well suited to activities other than horse riding, in particular, it may be used for the correction of postural faults in people. For example, a misaligned pelvis is often considered the root cause for many neck and back problems with all their attendant pain. The lower IMU used in the riding vest is ideally suited for measuring pelvic misalignment. As shown in figure 4, the misalignment is manifested by the pelvis being tilted such that one of the ileum is higher than the other - the square shows the tilt that the IMU would detect. Vibrators at the top of the hip bones or ileum cause the person to lower that side of their pelvis and remove the misalignment. There is also a corresponding opposite tilt to the shoulder blades which can be detected by an IMU situated over the thoracic vertebrae.

Whether used for horse riding, general posture or any other domain, the method can be made into a portable device removing the need for an external computer to mediate the relationship between the movement or pressure sensors and the tactile feedback. In a portable device, the logic is built into a processor contained within the control box worn by the user. The box has controls to set the minimum and maximum thresholds and the person is able to use it anywhere, not restricted to the range of the Bluetooth or wireless link between the control box and the computer. For a rider, this means that they could go hacking through the countryside while the equipment will continually monitor and correct their position. Similarly, people trying to correct postural problems or adapt to a prosthesis could wear the equipment unobtrusively and it would constantly correct their position until their body adapted and the necessary muscles were strengthened.

Figure 6 illustrates schematically a system for correcting a person’s physical behaviour, the system comprising: means for measuring (6.1) a characteristic of the person’s physical behaviour; means for determining (6.2) whether said characteristic is outside a predetermined range of values of said characteristic, and means for applying (6.3) an unconditional stimulus to the person to stimulate an unconditional response.

Although the invention has been described in terms of preferred embodiments as set forth above, it should be understood that these embodiments are illustrative only and that the claims are not limited to those embodiments. Those skilled in the art will be able to make modifications and alternatives in view of the disclosure which are contemplated as falling within the scope of the appended claims. Each feature disclosed or illustrated in the present specification may be incorporated in the invention, whether alone or in any appropriate combination with any other feature disclosed or illustrated herein.

Claims (17)

Claims
1. A method of correcting a person’s physical behaviour and improving the person’s athletic performance, the method comprising: measuring a characteristic of the person’s physical behaviour; determining at a computer device whether said characteristic is outside a predetermined range of values of said characteristic; applying an unconditional stimulus to the person to stimulate an unconditioned response; repeating said steps of measuring, determining and applying to stimulate an adaptation of the physical behaviour.
2. The method of claim 1 wherein said physical behaviour is posture.
3. The method of claim 1 or 2, wherein said characteristic is position and movement of a part of the person’s body along three orthogonal axes.
4. The method of any one of the preceding claims, wherein said measuring is carried out with one or more gyroscopes and/or accelerometers placed on the person’s body.
5. The method of any one of the preceding claims, wherein said measuring is carried out at the third thoracic vertebrae and/or at the second lumbar vertebrae.
6. The method of any one of the preceding claims, wherein said measuring comprises measuring at the person’s chest or shoulders or hands.
7. The method of any one of the preceding claims, further comprising providing a display of the measured characteristic and a horizon of said characteristic.
8. The method of any one of the preceding claims, wherein said unconditional stimulus is provided by a vibrator.
9. The method of any one of the preceding claims, further comprising adapting said predetermined range of values.
10. The method of any one of the preceding claims, further comprising filtering an output of said measuring step for avoiding incorrect applying of the unconditioned stimulus.
11. The method of any one of the preceding claims, wherein said correcting does not comprise treatment of a disease.
12. A system for correcting a person’s physical behaviour, the system comprising: means for measuring a characteristic of the person’s physical behaviour; means for determining whether said characteristic is outside a predetermined range of values of said characteristic; means for applying an unconditional stimulus to the person to stimulate an unconditional response.
13. The system of claim 12, wherein said means for measuring comprises one or more gyroscopes and/or accelerometers.
14. The system of claim 12 or 13, wherein said means for determining comprises a computing device.
15. The system of any one of claims 12 to 14, wherein the means for applying comprises a vibrator.
16. The system of any one of claims 12 to 15, wherein the means for measuring comprises one or more inertial measurement units.
17. The system of any one of claims 11 to 15, wherein the system is arranged to carry out the method of any one of claims 1 to 11.
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