Project Description

Principal Investigator: Joan Lobo Prat
Funding organization: Duchenne Parent Project Netherlands
Duration: 12/2017 – 07/2019
Budget: 23 000 EUR
Project website:
Collaboration with UCI BioRobotics Lab, Institut de Robòtica i Informàtica Industrial (CSIC-UPC) and Hospital Sant Joan de Déu.


Improvements in health care have extended the life expectancy of boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) into adulthood, however they still become wheelchair-bound around their early teens. While power-wheelchairs are an essential technology to support mobility, their continuous use results in an increased level of sedentarism, which leads to secondary functional deterioration of the musculoskeletal and cardiorespiratory systems, as well as to accelerated loss of arm function. Current international guidelines for people with DMD recommend performing regular submaximal activities and avoiding eccentric or exhausting high-resistance exercises, yet there is no consensus on the specific exercise dose that should be given. A recent randomized control trial evaluated the therapeutic effect of dynamic physical training in boys with DMD, and found that an appropriate, long-term dose of dynamic physical training helped to preserve their functional abilities. Unfortunately, current exercise devices for power-wheelchair users, such as the leg and arm cycles used in the above study, require the user to drive their wheelchair up to them, and then exercise during a fixed time period. In contrast, for people without disabilities, there are ample opportunities for integrated daily exercise (e.g. by biking to work, taking the stairs, achieving 10,000 steps etc.). The MOVit project aims at developing a device that allows powered wheelchair users to exercise their arms while driving. By using MOVit to sense the overall amount of arm exercise that has been achieved each day, and adaptively changing the arm range of motion/cycle speed required to drive the chair, we hypothesize that MOVit could intelligently provide an appropriate, long-term dose of dynamic physical training.

Project Publications

Lobo-Prat et al., Design and Preliminary Testing of MOVit: a Novel Exercise-Enabling Control Interface for Powered Wheelchair Users. In: 2018 7th IEEE International Conference on Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics (Biorob). 2018. p. 372–7.