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On a hot summer morning two years ago, I felt something weird about my neck after I woke up. It became so stiff that a tiny turn of my head would be inconceivable. I figured that if I stopped using the laptop all day it would be alright. However, the neck strain lasted for more than two weeks without any significant improvement. Back then my frd, who is a physio therapist and professor, happened to come back from vacation. He shared with me a trick that he normally wouldn’t divulge to his patients until they had paid him couple thousand dollars or ten times’ visits. It is a neck exercise to be exact. It’s not anything fancy. But it worked wonders.
What it does
Encourages people to do neck exercises that will help them prevent or cure neck shoulder related pain.
How I built it
For some people, they might lack awareness/knowledge of these simple exercises. For others, they might have looked up online in the past. But they don’t trust the wonders the little activities would make if conducted everyday. They think that they are not effective because they did not get to see the desired result when they failed to continue doing it. It might be due to forgetfulness, which is human. or they don't have the constant incentive/reminder to keep doing it.
Our project taps into the prevalent problem of neck strain among office workers. Through creative means of incentivizing people to do the exercises, in the form credits, The credits can then be used to donate to NGO, get discounts from popular vendors like amazon or healthcare professionals. Sources of the credits vary, for instance, insurance companies who want their clients to be healthy and safe. Since the old-fashioned way of providing informative knowledge does not turn into proactive illness prevention actions, we propose this sustainable model to solve this issue via gamification with other accompanying social benefits.
Professionally speaking, this exercise “chin tuck in and rotate head” proves to be one of the simplest neck exercises in preventing and curing office-work-related neck-shoulder-strain. In this sense, it serves not just as a preventive but also curing method as far as neck strain goes. Also by having the user record his pain scores (VAS) over time, the individual may see the results vividly. The VAS data that is generated can then be used as a reference for healthcare professionals/physio therapists to discern which exercise might be more effective over others. Too often, the lack of experimental data and the difficulty to conduct control experiments prove to be challenging for physio therapy researchers.
This also serves a way to incentivize users to do the exercise in an indirect way. We have this functionality for users to share their pain score graph with others. With the stories of people who successfully recover from neck strain by simply doing the exercise, the less persistent users will be encouraged to keep doing the exercise. When the exercises prove to be less effective for some users, for example if the pain score does not show any good signs over a given period of time, we also try to prompt immediate action of going to the physiotherapist. With the existing sustainable credit system we establish, patients will be more encouraged to consider going to the clinic given the discount offered.
Challenges I ran into
At first, we were using the pre-trained model resnet50 to generate some features for each image. But it takes time. We then used the PoseNet model based on a pretrained Mobilenet. The training was much faster and we were able to achieve real-time prediction (20 frames/sec on a i7 macbook-pro). Furthermore, the trained features of the Posenet model are more related to our problem to classify human postures.
Also, our dataset was quite small Thanks to PoseNet final layer, who has less features than a resnet50 final layer, it was easier to not overfit using this approach.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
Spreading the message about doing more exercises!
What I learned
Chronic diseases have to be dealt with consistent exercises.
What's next for neckare
Recruit volunteers for data gathering/ model training! Reach out to companies to test it out!