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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: BACKGROUND: There have been several reviews examining the effectiveness of VR in rehabilitation. However, its effectiveness remains inconclusive in most review articles. OBJECTIVE: To explore the effectiveness of customized game based virtual rehabilitation on the physical recovery of patients with acquired brain injury. METHOD: We searched PubMed, MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, CENTRAL, PsycINFO and AMED for articles published until 30 th June 2017. Articles that met the study’s inclusion/exclusion criteria were included in the review. RESULTS: A total of 31 studies were selected for review. Pooled analysis showed that customized…game-based virtual rehabilitation was effective in improving balance, gait and upper limb functioning as assessed via Berg Balance Scale (BBS) (WMD: 3.31, 95% CI 0.79 to 5.82); Timed Up and Go test (WMD: - 4.48, 95% CI - 5.43 to - 3.52); walk tests (SMD: 0.47, 95% CI 0.05 to 0.89), and Fugl-Meyer Assessment (SMD 0.46, 95% CI 0.20 to 0.72; P < 0.01). Generally, most studies reported that participants were more motivated and enjoyed the game based intervention although there were some mixed results. CONCLUSION: Customized game based virtual rehabilitation has potential to complement current rehabilitation programs. Participants’ subjective reports of well-being, motivation and acceptance towards this intervention were generally positive.
Keywords: Video games, rehabilitation, brain injuries, randomized controlled trials
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Existing generic technology design principles and guidelines are considered not to be sensitive enough to meet the needs of people with learning difficulties. OBJECTIVE: To propose a unified design framework that can inform the design of technologies for people with learning difficulties. METHODS: A literature search was undertaken and the resulting papers were analysed and coded in order to identify common ideas or recommendations that could be clustered into design principles. RESULTS: Four main categories of design principles were identified: learning support, accessibility, usability and agency. A conceptual framework…incorporating diversity, difference and digital inclusion offers a way to understand the consequences of applying or not applying some or all of the principles. CONCLUSIONS: A unified framework for the design of technologies for people with learning difficulties has the potential to fill the gap that more generic design guidelines cannot fill with regards to meeting the very specific needs of people with learning difficulties.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: The Therapeutic Patient Education (TPE) aims to help patients to understand diseases and treatments, and collaborate in healthcare by taking an active role in the management of a chronic disease. This transition from the classical patient compliance to empowerment is a revolutionary concept in medicine. However, this consensual idea is not easy to implement because of the complexity of medical records, which are designed for health professionals only. OBJECTIVE: In order to enhance the TPE, an intuitive tool based on a visuo-dynamic interface was developed to facilitate the self-evaluation of disability situations. METHODS:…The paper describes the whole implementation process to implement such a user interface, from the development of an innovative low cost markerless motion capture to the 3D modeling of everyday life activities. RESULTS: A usability test carried out on twenty disabled people shows that participants are more at ease to perform a self-assessment of their motor disabilities through an animated stickman-based interface than a classical static interface. CONCLUSIONS: Considering the promising results of this study, the next step of this project will consist of integrating the visuo-dynamic interface into an existing platform (e-ESPOIRS-Handi) dedicated to information sharing between health professional and disabled people.
Keywords: Image processing, 3D reconstruction, biological motion, motor disability, graphic user interface, usability
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Current guidelines for accessing graphs non-visually are based on giving access to underlying tabular data and reading the values one by one. When data sets are large, it becomes impossible to get an overview. OBJECTIVE: This work presents a proof-of-concept of automated audio description of data sets up to 100 data points that can be used by persons with visual impairment or persons who for other reasons are unable to use their visual attention for data access. METHODS: A pilot study was conducted to elicit guidelines for oral chart descriptions, after which…lo-fi and hi-fi prototypes were designed. Visually impaired and sighted users were involved throughout the process. RESULTS: The pilot study pinpointed important issues of oral chart descriptions and provided input for a lo-fi-prototype with three variants. The lo-fi-prototype singled out the most successful way of describing the charts based on which a hi-fi prototype for large data sets was created and tested. CONCLUSIONS: The results of the hi-fi tests are promising. Participants listened 1–2 times to the descriptions and were able to discuss details in the data. Thus, the initial guidelines and the following design process provided the necessary information to create a successful proof-of-concept.
Keywords: Data sets, automation, audio-description, visual impairment
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Lower limb exoskeletons have been developed to enable individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) to walk. Currently, they can be used by people with no motor function (SCI ASIA A or B). OBJECTIVES: To present the perspectives of individuals with ASIA C or D incomplete SCI concerning the usability of lower limb exoskeletons to R&D engineers and clinicians working in motor rehabilitation. METHODS: A qualitative exploratory study was conducted using semi-structured individual interviews with three videos showing exoskeletons. RESULTS: The thirteen participants (seven women, mean age =…50.8 ± 11.7 years) reported both positive and negative perceptions. Three capabilities that can be compensated for and/or improved using an exoskeleton were mentioned, as well as seven life habits. The participants expected lower limb exoskeletons to have 11 technical characteristics. CONCLUSIONS: There is an important gap between the expectations of individuals with incomplete SCI and what can be done with existing lower limb exoskeletons in the community. This indicates that the design of future exoskeletons for individuals with incomplete SCI should allow this population to achieve capabilities and facilitate their life habits, besides the ones they already perform using their current assistive technologies.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Physical activity (PA) in stroke survivors is low however the ubiquitous nature of smartphone technology means smartphone-based interventions could be a feasible and cost-effective approach to increase PA. We developed STARFISH, a group behavioural change intervention delivered via a smartphone app to help increase PA. OBJECTIVE: Following the positive results of our pilot study the aim of this single-blind, Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) is to examine the effect of the STARFISH intervention, on PA in stroke survivors, compared to usual care. METHODS: One hundred and twenty-eight community dwelling stroke survivors will be…recruited, from four NHS boards in Scotland, and randomised to intervention or control groups. The interventional groups will use the STARFISH app. The control group will receive literature on PA post-stroke. Outcome measures will be taken at: baseline, four months (end of the intervention), two months post-intervention. The primary outcome will be objectively measured PA. Secondary outcome measures will be sedentary time, activity profiles, walking speed and endurance, fatigue, anxiety and depression, activities of daily living, quality of life and metabolic health-risk biomarkers. CONCLUSION: If improvements are found in the PA and health of stroke survivors then STARFISH could be deployed through app stores to allow implementation at scale.