iExA: Interactive Exercise Adherence coach for self-management of musculoskeletal disorders

This proposal fits closely with the Healthcare Technologies Grand Challenges of using real-time information to support self-management of health and well-being, and to facilitate timely interventions to transform community health and care. It combines the cross-cutting research capabilities of Physiotherapy (RGU, NHS Grampian, NHS Tayside), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Sensing and Reasoning (RGU), Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) (Dundee) and Computer Vision and Image Processing (Dundee). Focusing on Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), we draw attention to a substantial cross-section of the population, identified as most at risk for years lived with disability by the WHO global burden of disease study. It is estimated that up to 90% of the population will have low back pain (LBP) at some point in their lives but digital solutions for prescribed exercise adherence monitoring is limited to self-reporting which prohibits long-term technology assisted self-management. Our vision is to address this social vulnerability, by bringing together a unique trans-disciplinary team of academics (Computing and Health Sciences), care givers (Physiotherapists), care receivers (people living with MSDs) and business beneficiaries (digital health SMEs) to deliver iExA – an ambitious, digital health solution that leverages sensing and virtual reality devices to monitor, motivate, reinforce and provide personalised feedback for the self-management of MSDs.


Professor Nirmalie Wiratunga
Professor Wiratunga’s research interests include both theoretical and practical aspects of Artificial Intelligence with focus on Case-based Reasoning (CBR), Text Mining and Machine Learning. Her recent projects include: an EU H2020 Selfback project on mHealth and wearables; InnovateUK projects on Sentiment Analysis for Product recommendation, Diabetes Self-Management, Knowledge Discovery from ePatient Records and industry funded projects with BT and British Geological Survey.


Prof Annalu Waller

Annalu Waller has worked in the field of Augmentative and Alternate Communication (AAC) since 1985, designing communication systems for and with nonspeaking individuals. She established the first AAC assessment and training centre in South Africa in 1987 before coming to Dundee in 1989. Her PhD developed narrative technology support for adults with acquired dysphasia following stroke. Her primary research areas are human computer interaction, natural language processing, personal narrative and assistive technology.


Dr Kay Cooper
Dr Cooper is a Reader in Health & Wellbeing Research with over 10 years’ experience of research in the fields of musculoskeletal conditions and physiotherapy service delivery. She leads the North of Scotland hub of the Council for Allied Health Professions Research, has served as an expert panel member for the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy’s research priorities exercise, and is a regular reviewer for several peer-reviewed journals and conferences in the field of physiotherapy.


Prof Stephen Mckenna

Stephen McKenna’s research interests include the development and application of computer vision, pattern recognition and machine learning methods in domains such as biomedical image analysis, intelligent human-computer interaction, and content-based image browsing. Details of his research, teaching and related activities can be accessed using the tabs at the top of this page.


Dr Sadiq Sani
Dr Sani is a Research Fellow who specialises in machine learning, case-based reasoning and natural language processing. He has experience working on diverse projects, from search personalisation to computer vision and more recently, human activity recognition. Sadiq presently works on the SelfBACK project, developing activity recognition algorithms to assist with self-management of low back pain.