Scooters on treadmills – Week 2

Protocols and pilot testing

This week’s entry on the Scooters on Treadmills project is brought to you by Ashleen Sappal.

What an exciting and pro-active week this has been, I don’t think I can look at an e-scooter the same! We carried out testing on 5 participants and I can definitely say practice makes perfect! Each test was improved and more efficient each time, with different obstacles faced along the way of course.

At first, it was fairly difficult to carry out each step in a sleek manner but after several practices, we were able to carry out the protocol with much more ease. We faced some issues along the way, such as the heart rate monitor occasionally not working, however, we were able to track the participants heart rate via the treadmill software, therefore, this error did not interfere with the process. We carried out 3 main protocols:

Familiarization: The participant practices using the e-scooter on the treadmill to gain familiarity of the procedure.

E-scooter and treadmill:  Measurements of gas analysis and heart rate of the participant are taken during this procedure.

Walking on the treadmill: Measurement of gas analysis and heart rate are taken during this procedure to compare to when using an e-scooter.

After practising several times, I was able to write up a timeline of each step, which was useful to refer to for clarification when carrying out the protocol. At first, the thought of using the Metalyser software gave me the same feeling as being on a roller-coaster; scary and daunting! However, after several practices, I actually looked forward to using this software. Sam and Katrina were very patient and always there to answer any questions we had, no matter how many times we asked the same question! The various aspects of Metalyser, such as oxygen consumption, gave me an insight into how this can vary when using an e-scooter, in comparison to walking, which is something that is highly important and practical within real-life scenarios.

A series of questionnaires regarding, for example the participants emotions are filled out, although one survey we forgot to give the participant, which we remembered shortly after. However, this did waste some time and so this mistake was noted and avoided the next time. This made me realise that I was focusing so hard on remembering the unfamiliar steps of the protocol, such as using each software and machinery, in comparison to the small familiar steps, such as making sure all the surveys were given and in the correct order. Therefore, this mistake was noted and avoided for future testing.

I sent out an email to anyone who would be interested in participating and created a spreadsheet to collect data on names and availability. This allowed us to visualise how many participants were interested and how to organise the week for each individual’s availability. This definitely taught me how to be pushy, but not too pushy, in order to persuade people to participate! Additionally, a spreadsheet of randomisation was created to group each individual into one of two groups, one being carrying out e-scooter activity first and the second being carrying out walking on the treadmill first. This randomisation eliminated accidental and selection bias, allowing for increased reliability and validity of the results.  Each test went smoothly with very few errors; however, the participants were very co-operative, which thoroughly helped!

Our third participant was slightly nervous, which reminded me of my first experience on the e-scooter and treadmill. This showed us that each participant is going to be different, requiring more time in different steps of the protocol, such as spending more time on e-scooter familiarisation, which allowed us to be flexible and take a different approach to each individual if required, for example some required one of us to hold the scooter while they were gaining their balance.

We set ourselves a target of trying to complete the protocol in just under 2 hours, and fortunately this was achieved with our final participant, a huge achievement for us! This has been a successful and insightful week, with each day bringing us a new participant and new goals to achieve. Looking forward to week 3!