The design, development and utility testing of a novel shoulder rehabilitation device

Author: Philippa Tsirgiotis

  • Thesis download: available for open access on 27 Apr 2025.

Tsirgiotis, Philippa, 2021 The design, development and utility testing of a novel shoulder rehabilitation device , Flinders University, College of Science and Engineering

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Passive mobility-based rehabilitation is an important treatment for several common shoulder pathologies. While clinical outcomes are heavily reliant on rehabilitation frequency and compliance, treatment is often limited to that provided in a clinical setting. In response to this, a device called the Shoulder Mobiliser was developed to allow safe passive motion of the shoulder in the home. Two functional prototypes were previously produced, and the aims of this project were to improve the usability, viability and feasibility of the novel device.

Potential end users (n=7, aged = 63 ± 9.6) who had all undergone shoulder rehabilitation were recruited for a study to assess the usability of the device, and to guide the design of a subsequent prototype. This process produced a mean System Usability Scale score of 90.36 ± 4.71, indicating excellent usability of the most recent prototype. Potential device improvements identified by participants included variable speed options, a change in control switch, cost reduction and the addition of a display on the device itself to complement a tracking application.

A preliminary surface electromyography study was performed while using the prototype device as intended, with results indicating that the activity of surface muscles of the shoulder remains low during device usage. This indicates that the Shoulder Mobiliser may be appropriate for passive rehabilitation. However, variance across results limit the confidence of this claim.

Finally, two designs were created for a subsequent prototype of the Shoulder Mobiliser. The new designs utilised cheaper components, a new control switch, a display screen and a charging port. Production costs were reduced from AUD$1400 to under AUD$260, not including control electronics.

Future recommendations for continued development include the selection of one of the presented designs, assessment of scalability of manufacturing, clinical assessment of the device through a formal trial and a more comprehensive electromyographic study.

Keywords: shoulder rehabilitation, biomedical engineering, medical device, usability testing, electromyography, product design

Subject: Engineering thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2021
School: College of Science and Engineering
Supervisor: Dr David Hobbs