An innovative new prediction method has been developed by researchers at Tohoku University that uses pressure sensors installed on a conventional office chair.
Frontiers in Physiology Journal published the study. Office workers are no strangers to low back pain (LBP). One out of 10 otherwise healthy office workers in Japan suffers from low back pain. When workers stretch and exercise, they are often too late to help alleviate the pain. What if our seats alerted us before the pain worsened?
Sensors in the “smart chairs” automatically and quantitatively detect workers’ movements on the chair.
An outdoor setting was used to test the smart chair. Based on data collected over a three-month period from 22 study participants, the research group studied the dynamics of sitting behavior and identified a predictable course of lower back pain (LBP).
Furthermore, the researchers discovered a recurring motif in the sitting behavior of most participants using various machine learning methods. In order to prevent the progression of LBP, they identified small motions within the body trunk that prevented fixation of the vertebral joints. In comparison with a morning reference state, the frequency of the motif could serve as a predictor for LBP worsening throughout the day.
Researchers hope to extend the technique to other areas of the body.
“Although the current method focused on LBP, we hope to collect data relating to head and neck regions to be able to predict and prevent stiff necks and headaches,” said paper co-author Ryoichi Nagatomi.
(With inputs from ANI)