Personalized Coaching Systems to support healthy behavior in people with chronic conditions

J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2014 Dec;24(6):815-26. doi: 10.1016/j.jelekin.2014.10.003.


Chronic conditions cannot be cured but daily behavior has a major effect on the severity of secondary problems and quality of life. Changing behavior however requires intensive support in daily life, which is not feasible with a human coach. A new coaching approach - so-called Personal Coaching Systems (PCSs) - use on-body sensing, combined with smart reasoning and context-aware feedback to support users in developing and maintaining a healthier behavior. Three different PCSs will be used to illustrate the different aspects of this approach: (1) Treatment of neck/shoulder pain. EMG patterns of the Trapezius muscles are used to estimate their level of relaxation. Personal vibrotactile feedback is given, to create awareness and enable learning when muscles are insufficiently relaxed. (2) Promoting a healthy activity pattern. Using a 3D accelerometer to measure activity and a smartphone to provide feedback. Timing and content of the feedback are adapted real-time, using machine-learning techniques, to optimize adherence. (3) Management of stress during daily living. The level of stress is quantified using a personal model involving a combination of different sensor signals (EMG, ECG, skin conductance, respiration). Results show that Personal Coaching Systems are feasible and a promising and challenging way forward to coach people with chronic conditions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Phone*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Chronic Pain / psychology
  • Chronic Pain / therapy*
  • Feedback, Physiological / physiology
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Neck Pain / psychology
  • Neck Pain / therapy*
  • Precision Medicine / instrumentation
  • Precision Medicine / methods*
  • Precision Medicine / psychology
  • Quality of Life / psychology