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Fitness Tracking for Wheelchair Users

Posted by ROLAND REZNIK on June 07, 2016. 0 Comments

Fitness trackers are an application or device created for monitoring fitness levels and goals. They are responsible for monitoring the heart rate, calorie consumption, sleep quality, physical activity and more. Fitness trackers have been on the market for able-bodied people for a number of years. However, wheelchair users will soon be able to enjoy specialized trackers to monitor their unique health and fitness goals. Here are some of the popular fitness tracking devices and applications for wheelchair users,

Freewheel Tracker    

Freewheel is a fitness tracker device created specifically for wheelchair users. The creation originated with Tyler Hively, a content strategist for Chaotic Moon Studios. Hively, a wheelchair user, collaborated with the company’s BASE innovation lab and soon created the Freewheel fitness tracker for people in wheelchairs.

The device attaches to the wheelchair and is capable of tracking altitude, acceleration, speed, decline and incline. The barometer, accelerometer, and gyroscope sensors allow the device to calculate additional muscle use needed to cross a variety of terrains. Chaotic Moon Studios has already unveiled a prototype.

In addition, the Freewheel is capable of transmitting data such as heart rate monitoring to wearable devices via Bluetooth. This means that wheelchair users will receive notification on their smartphones. Ben Lamm, CEO of Chaotic Moon, stated: “Project Freewheel is a technological tool that can improve the lives of those in the disabled community.”

Chaotic Moon continues to gather more information to make Freewheel more useful to its users. They are already retrieving details and important information regarding mountains, cities and a number of other things to make Freewheel even more useful to users. The technology will allow the user to gather data regarding terrain, routes and more as the user travels. The thought behind the improvement is similar to how bicyclists and hikers determine the best route.

SmartHub Tracker

Manual wheelchair users will soon have a personal fitness tracker specifically created to track health and fitness. The SmartHub is a beneficial tool for healthcare professionals, consumers, and researchers. It is used to collect data and monitor fitness details such as stroke frequency, average pushing force, distance traveled, average velocity and strokes per day.

The SmartHub contains a magnet and the main control board. These two parts attach to manual wheelchairs with the use of Velcro. The control board has a removable micro-SD card that downloads data for the consumer via a computer. However, a future prototype includes a card reader that allows the device to plug directly into the computer to download data as well as charge the battery.

In addition, the developers of SmartHub are looking into creating a 3D-printing case to protect the device from harsh elements outdoors. While the device weighs less than a pound, it has impressive technology. The three main electronic components on the control board are the reed switch, an Arduino Pro-Mini, and an accelerometer. The main controller for the device is the Arduino, the distance is calculated via the reed switch and the accelerometer calculates average pushing force and stroke frequency.

Benefits from Using a Fitness Tracker

As technology for fitness trackers improve it provides users with the ability to view their health status clearly. Gone are the days of waiting for your annual check-up at the doctor’s office to learn of your basic statistics. Now, users know their heart rate, blood pressure, glucose levels, fitness levels and more. Fitness trackers can lead to major life improvements that can save lives.

How can fitness tracker technology evolve?    

Technology advancements and new innovations will surely arrive in the future. The designers and creators of Freewheel and SmartHub already have research established to make the product better than it already is. Right now the user can track a variety of health and fitness statistics. Soon those options will increase and highly benefit the user health wise. The possibilities are endless since technology is always moving forward.

Are fitness trackers good for daily use?

Able-bodied people often use their fitness tracker when they exercise, while others chose to monitor their fitness activity on a daily basis. As a wheelchair user, you have the same option. You might use it when you are at the park or participate in your wheelchair basketball practice. Other wheelchair users might prefer to monitor their entire day of activity. Your doctor might ask you to use a fitness tracker for a specified period of time to monitor your health.

Why get a fitness tracker?

You might be asking yourself, “Why should I get a fitness tracker?” It provides insight into your health on a daily basis. It helps you keep track of your progress and helps you determine a healthy lifestyle for yourself. Monitoring your health and fitness goals, achievements and statistics will also help your doctor keep you on the right track to living a long healthy life.

As a wheelchair athlete, you will also benefit heavily from tracking your fitness. It will provide clear vision into your current health status and ability as well as challenge you to improve your fitness levels and strength. You will become the best athlete by competing against yourself through the fitness tracker.

Freewheel and SmartHub both claim to be the first developers to create a fitness tracker for wheelchair users. Both companies have prototypes and research completed. They are in a race to see which one makes their product available to the public first. In the future, there are surely going to be more manufacturers creating new styles and models. Soon you will have a wide range of trackers to choose from. The goal is to find the best one suited to your health and fitness goals.

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