Author: Heng, Bodyka
Advancement in wearable devices has allowed users to easily capture and monitor their physical activity data. There is a growing interest in using the data captured by these devices for self-management of chronic diseases. However, wearable devices in the market today are generally designed for people with no physical restrictions who try to get fit. Wearable devices like Fitbit and Jawbone UP recommend users to take 10,000 daily steps. Fitbit sets this as a default recommended goal for its users. However, this recommended goal is not appropriate for people with chronic pain such as people living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Currently, this group of people lack appropriate health and fitness tools to help them collect and manage their activity data without having to customize multiple settings with the tools available on the market today. People with RA struggle to be physically active because of the pain caused the inflammation around one or more joints in the body. This inflammation causes significant discomfort for them to be physically active. Doctors tend to encourage patients to achieve certain activity goals every day to keep their muscle strong and joints flexible. When one is not physically active or tend to avoid physical activity, their muscles get weaker and they lose flexibility in their joints. Thus, people with RA are encouraged to be physically active to help manage and maintain the disease. We developed a non-intrusive reminder as a Chrome browser extension called “FitViz-Ad” to help arthritis patients track exercise and measure if they are meeting the activity goals set by their doctors. FitViz-Ad replaces online advertisements with reminders for the users to get up and walk around if they have been sedentary for too long. We conducted a usability study to evaluate FitViz-Ad as a non-intrusive reminder by recruiting fourteen healthy participants for a 2-week study. Participants were required to wear a Fitbit tracker for the duration of the study which their physical activity data was collected and analyzed. Each participant was then interviewed at the end of the study about their experience and thoughts on the extension. Results from the study showed no significant increase in participants’ physical activity while using FitViz-Ad, however qualitative results from the interviews showed that participants were more aware of their physical activity during the study.
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Thesis advisor: Shaw, Chris
Thesis advisor: Gromala, Diane
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