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Technology and Disability communicates knowledge about the field of assistive technology devices and services, within the context of the lives of end users - persons with disabilities and their family members. While the topics are technical in nature, the articles are written for broad comprehension despite the reader's education or training.
Technology and Disability's contents cover research and development efforts, education and training programs, service and policy activities and consumer experiences.
The term Technology refers to assistive devices and services.
- The term Disability refers to both permanent and temporary functional limitations experienced by people of any age within any circumstance.
- The term and underscores the editorial commitment to seek for articles which see technology linked to disability as a means to support or compensate the person in daily functioning.
The Editor also attempts to link the themes of technology and disability through the selection of appropriate basic and applied research papers, review articles, case studies, programme descriptions, letters to the Editor and commentaries. Suggestions for thematic issues and proposed manuscripts are welcomed.
Abstract: Objectives: Despite the growing number of individuals with motor disabilities who decide to become parents, their parenting role has received little attention in society, research or rehabilitation. The aim of this study was to document the various dimensions of the experience of parents in wheelchairs with children aged 6 to 12. More specifically, the objectives were to: 1) identify the environmental and personal obstacles encountered, 2) document the personal strategies developed, and 3) document the types of formal and informal support used. A conceptual model was then developed. Method: Interviews were conducted with six fathers and six mothers…in wheelchairs, followed by a thematic analysis of the content using procedures that met rigorous qualitative research criteria. Results: In performing their parenting role in the three dimensions, the parents encountered two types of obstacles, developed seven types of personal strategies and used four types of informal and formal support. Discussion and conclusion: The diversity of personal strategies is evidence of the parents’ desire to develop alternative ways to overcome obstacles. The main reason for seeking support was accessibility limitations. Social prejudices against parents in wheelchairs still exist. Clinical, political and social recommendations are suggested. The initial conceptual model was improved and discussed.
Keywords: Wheelchair, parenting role, accessibility, personal strategies
Abstract: Background: The use of robots for providing support to persons with dementia is very promising. However, it is difficult to develop a truly useful robot system because of the difficulty of clarifying their needs and opinions. Objective: Because a field-based method is effective for the development of these kinds of systems, in this study, we developed a prototype of an information support robot for persons with dementia, using field-based methodology. Methods: A communication robot system produced by NEC Corporation, called “PaPeRo”, was chosen as the platform for this system. To achieve the goal of keeping persons…with dementia informed of their daily schedule and prompting them to take desired actions, interactive verbal communication algorithms were programmed into the robot system. Results: The results of experiments with five dementia sufferers showed that this system produced an information acquisition rate of over 90%. In addition, a life support demonstration showed the possibility of prompting users to perform actions. Conclusions: These results suggest the possibility of using this robot to support independent living by persons with dementia, and also the effectiveness of the field-based method.
Keywords: Assistive technology, field-based innovation, development methodology, communication robot, verbal communication, assistive robots
Abstract: Background: Clinical evaluation of novel assistive technologies is of utmost importance, as this would help in making such technologies practical and ensuring that they suit the user’s requirements. Objective: The purpose of this study is to develop a new methodology for the addition of user and user’s life centered clinical evaluation of assistive technologies (ULCEAT) to conventional evaluation methods. The proposed ULCEAT methodology consists of two steps: evaluation by rehabilitation professionals and evaluation by potential users. These evaluations were performed to identify target users and to ensure the effective use of new assistive technologies (ATs); the evaluations were…based primarily on qualitative research involving the rehabilitation professionals and the potential users. Methods: The methodology was demonstrated by using it for the clinical evaluation of Roboticbed® , which was developed by the Panasonic Corporation. Results: The effective use of Roboticbed® was confirmed on the basis of the results, and three target user types were identified. The validity of this methodology was further confirmed by a user evaluation of Roboticbed® in an experimental environment. Conclusions: The findings of this study will be used to help conduct conventional clinical evaluations for novel and prototype ATs.
Keywords: Rehabilitation professionals, development of assistive technology, clinical evaluation, robot technology, qualitative research, user identification
Abstract: Background: The number of lonely elderly is expected to increase due to demographic changes. CareTV is a technological solution, which allows users to interact with carers, family and friends from their home. In prior research users mentioned that CareTV expanded their social contacts, but it had not been measured if feelings of loneliness as a consequence have decreased. Objective: Investigate whether CareTV is a valid instrument for elderly to engage in meaningful social contacts by a video connection to avoid loneliness. Evaluate the implementation process and identify the remaining future challenges. Methods: From March 2008, elderly…people receiving homecare from Proteion Thuis were informed about CareTV and asked to participate in the study. The CareTV duplex video/voice network allowed clients to communicate 24 hours, 7 days a week with a nurse practitioner. Applications of CareTV are (1) Alarm Service (2) Care Service (3) Good morning/good evening service (4) Welfare and housing and (5) Family Contact. During the one year trial period, feelings of loneliness and safety were measured using a questionnaire. In addition, clients’ experiences were evaluated in open questions in the survey. The implementation was evaluated retrospectively with a framework developed by Broens. Results: 180 clients of homecare organization Proteion Thuis were connected to CareTV. 130 clients with the average age of 73.2 years were included in the study. The results show that the average feeling of loneliness at group level significantly (p < 0.001 ) decreased from 5.97 (sd 2.77) to 4.02 (sd 3.91) between the start and end of the study on a scale from 0 till 11. Social loneliness (5-items) as well as emotional loneliness (6-items) showed significant decreases. To evaluate safety, no sum score could be calculated, but on item level: for 5 out of 9 items, most clients felt less safe after one year. For one item most clients had improved feelings of safety and for three items, most clients had an equal score. Evaluation of implementation shows what has been done and what needs to be done in future for the specific determinants. Conclusion: Feelings of loneliness significantly decreased within one year. As loneliness is a problem in an estimated 30–40% of the elderly, CareTV seems to be a suitable instrument for elderly, to live longer at home with less feelings of loneliness. Feelings of safety on item level did not seem to improve, this might be due to the fact that no validated scale was used. On the other hand, individual clients indicated that they felt safe with careTV. In future, a study with a validated safety scale should be performed in order to clarify the effect of CareTV on feelings of safety. The analysis of the development and implementation process indicates that the business development approach may be strengthened and that the homecare organization itself may take the lead in that process.
Abstract: Background: Instruments for assessment of outcomes of mobility device interventions in terms of participation in everyday life and society for persons with walking disability are lacking. Objective: To describe the development process of the ‘Nordic mobility-related participation outcome evaluation of assistive device interventions’ (NOMO 1.0). Methods: 1) Rasch analysis of a mobility-related participation questionnaire based on data from interviews with 111 powered wheelchair or scooter users. 2) Construction of a new self-report instrument, based on the ICF framework in a Nordic context. The development encompassed consultancy with mobility device users (N = 41 ),…assistive technology professionals (N = 20 ) and researchers (N = 17 ), and three rounds of pilot testing among mobility device users (N = 113 ). 3) Reliability testing of the instrument among 147 mobility device users. Results: The Rasch analysis demonstrated construct validity, but low discriminative ability. The subsequently developed instrument was found to be content valid and feasible, and the test-retest reliability was satisfactory. Conclusions: The NOMO 1.0 is available free of charge in four Nordic languages. Further psychometric testing of the NOMO 1.0 is being planned.
Abstract: Background: Service robots may offer an innovative assistive solution to improve the quality of life of frail elderly people, by assisting them in specific situations identified as relevant to maintain independence. Objective: This paper describes the results of a qualitative and quantitative research based on a user-centered methodology carried out within the EU-funded project “Multi-Role Shadow Robotic System for Independent Living” (SRS), aiming to generate user requirements and realistic usage scenarios maximizing the alignment with users’ needs, perceptions, feelings and rights. Methods: A qualitative and quantitative research – based on focus groups (59 participants) and questionnaires…(129 respondents) – was carried out in three countries: Italy, Spain and Germany. The survey involved prospective end-users (elderly people and family members who care for them), caregivers, and geriatric experts. Results: Results show that despite elderly people encounter difficulties in many activities of daily life, a semi-autonomous remotely-controlled and self-learning service robot has been judged an interesting solution only in some circumstances. Monitoring and managing emergency situations, helping with reaching, fetching and carrying objects that are too heavy or positioned in unreachable places: these are tasks for which robotic support has been widely accepted, while tasks involving direct physical contact between the person and the robot are not appreciated instead. Relatives of the elderly could act as remote operators; however, family psychological burden and time restrictions should be considered too. Conclusions: A tele-operated robotic system may be of help for frail elderly people. In certain cases this solution may be effective only in conjunction with a 24-hour professional Service Centre able to manage tele-operation when relatives are not available. This survey adds further tokens of knowledge to previous literature studies on this subject; it compares the potential users’ and the professionals’ views; it helps identifying potentially successful applications of tele-operated robots in the care of elderly people living at home. The results obtained by the present study, generated specific requirements and the first versions of concrete usage scenarios, enabling designers and technologists to start with a first development phase of the SRS concept.
Keywords: Service robots, tele-operation, elderly people, caregivers, user requirements, user centered design