Para-Percussion: Rhythmic Exercise for the Body and Mind


Exercise is recognized as one of the most important behaviors in maintaining overall health and reducing the risks of chronic diseases,1,2 as well as protecting against secondary conditions.3  For persons with disabilities, studies have demonstrated that exercise improves functional performance,4 and quality of life.5  Musical performance is an art form that has shown to be a highly effective method for increasing the amount of physical activity one performs each day.6 With a lack of resources able to accommodate the high demand for personal musician trainers, it is often difficult or impossible for users to advance their skills.
Para-percussion technology approaches this problem with automated systems and unique assemblies to accommodate users of all kinds.  The idea is simple – give users a system that allows for interactive and instructional rhythmic content, while keeping the system easy to follow and universally accessible. The current model of Para-percussion integrates Arduino microcontroller systems with an adjustable percussion rack unit (examples shown below), currently allowing for simple patterns and rudiments to be learned and practiced.


Parapercussion ChipParapercussion

Example of microcontroller used, and initial assembly

Features of this model include time mapping algorithms for forgiving pattern recognition, complete adaptability for users with varying ranges of movement and ability, 3D printed circuitry enclosures for unique and sturdy assembly, lighted drums for aesthetically pleasing visual recognition, and wireless communication with vibrating modules to allow haptic feedback for users with little to no sight.

1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (1996). Physical Activity and Health: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2000). Healthy People 2010. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
3. Paffenbarger RS, Morris JN, Haskell WL, Thompson PD, Lee I-M. (2004). An intro-duction to the Journal of Physical Activity and Health. J Phys Activity Health, 1:1–3.
4. Romberg A, Virtanen A, Ruutiainen J, Aunola S, Karppi SL, Vaara M, Surakka J,Pohjolainen T, Seppanen A. (2004). Effects of a 6-month exercise program on patients with multiple sclerosis: a randomized study. Neurology, 63(11):2034–2038.
5. Patti F, Ciancio MR, Reggio E, Lopes R, Palermo F, Cacopardo M, Reggio A. (2002). The impact of outpatient rehabilitation on quality of life in multiple sclerosis. J Neurol, 249(8):1027–1033.
6. University of Chichester, “The Clem Burke Drumming project,” July 2008. Web.