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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: Walking speed predicts important clinical outcomes in older adults and is one of the most significant indicators of frailty. OBJECTIVE: To test whether it is feasible to measure walking speed frequently and unobtrusively in the home. METHODS: A longitudinal feasibility study was conducted comprising the installation and monitoring of continuous measurement walking speed sensors in twenty frail older adults’ homes for a period of twelve weeks (eighteen participants completed the study). Manual walking speed, frailty level and health status were measured at four-weekly intervals. Qualitative interviews were conducted at the end of…the study to assess participants’ attitudes to the sensors and to the concept of continuous in-home walking speed measurement. RESULTS: There was a high degree of variance to the number of walking speed measurements recorded by each participant’s sensor (median 1942.39, range 2-3617). Participants indicated acceptability of both the sensor within the home and the concept of in-home walking speed measurement. CONCLUSIONS: Where regular measurement was achieved, the results indicate that walking speed might be better viewed as a distribution rather than a single figure, taking into account the natural variation to walking speed in daily life. This study demonstrates the feasibility of continuous ambient in-home walking speed monitoring of older adults with a low-cost, easily deployed device.
Keywords: Walking speed, digital health technology, health monitoring, frailty, older people
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic degenerative neurological disease with visual, sensitive, motor, or cognitive symptoms. Physical activities are recommended for people with MS (pwMS) who are at home instead of in a rehabilitation program, to help them to maintain their autonomy. Since a lack of motivation appears to be the principal barrier for pwMS to practice exercises, it is necessary to evaluate whether mobile health (mHealth) tools can offer a solution to stimulate their motivation. OBJECTIVE: This literature review analyzes papers to investigate to how a mobile application can motivate pwMS to practice physical…activities and manage their fatigue. METHODS: We performed an automatic query from digital libraries and analyzed the studies. RESULTS: We selected seven articles that responded to our criteria. These studies tested mobile applications that used different strategies to motivate pwMS to practice physical exercises at home and manage their fatigue. A lack of motivation was the main obstacle, but depending on the type of exercises chosen, some application settings seemed to resolve this issue. CONCLUSIONS: Studies in this area are limited, although this literature review highlights the need for mHealth tools in which pwMS and their therapists contribute to their use and conception.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Identifying obstacles and potholes in the pathway of the visually impaired have received much attention. While much has been done on the detection of obstacles, in the design of electronic mobility aids, much more is needed to be done on the detection of holes and drop-offs, especially those that are affordable and hands-free. This paper therefore considers the development of a wearable electronic mobility aid. METHODS: The developed system is based on the multisensor fusion approach of detection which combined three techniques, namely: a source of laser light, a camera and an ultrasonic sensor. A…red line generating laser source is used to project a straight line and this is captured by the camera. The red line is deformed differently on coming in contact with holes or standing obstacles. The pattern of deformation is then extracted for obstacle and pothole recognition. The visibility of laser light is greatly reduced when the scene is extremely illuminated, so this is complemented with edge detection. The edge detection uses edges in the identification of holes and obstacles. This is combined with ultrasonic sensing, so that the presence of obstacles can be differentiated from that of holes. The outcome of detection and the distance of obstacles from the blind are relayed via an audio cue. REDULTS: Its evaluation showed better performance compared to the guide cane. It showed a reduction in collision rate by 83.25% and reduction in falling rate by 84.62%. The device received good acceptability from the users.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Young adults with an intellectual disability require transportation to participate in work and leisure, however reports on specific public transportation training programs, use of assistive technology supports, and outcomes are limited. OBJECTIVE: This pilot study was designed to explore if a transportation training program which utilized technology aids decreased the amount travel assistance required. A secondary objective was to observe and describe the specific assistive technology utilized while traveling within the community. METHODS: Eight individualized training sessions were administered within the community with the integration of technology aids and travel skill training…through a facilitated learning model. The Pre & Post Travel Training Test was administered pre-test and post-test. RESULTS: The paired t test (n = 10) revealed a significant increase in scores upon post-test (p = 0.00011), indicating a decrease in assistance required for travel. The most preferred technology aid was individualized, printed Google Maps directions (60%) followed by smartphone Apps (40%) and visual social stories (40%). CONCLUSIONS: All participants increased independence in public transportation travel skills. Ample opportunity to trial low to high technology aids should be considered. Through this initial pilot, possible greater availability of access to work and community opportunities may result after community-based transportation training.
Keywords: Travel instruction, community mobility, intellectual disability, public transportation, assistive technology
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Manual wheelchair users are at a high risk of repetitive strain injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, and rotator cuff tears due to propelling their wheelchair for mobility. Rolling resistance (RR) is one of the key forces that leads to increased propulsion forces and risk of injuries. OBJECTIVE: To better understand the factors contributing to RR, we iteratively designed, developed, and validated a drum-based testing machine and test method. METHODS: As part of the validation of the system, we tested and compared 4 manual wheelchair wheels under a range of conditions including camber, toe…in/out, tire pressure, surfaces, and speed. A treadmill was employed to simulate flat ground RR. RESULTS: A machine was effectively designed, developed, and tested to measure RR. Tire type, surfaces, and toe were found to be the largest contributors to RR. Comparison of the drum-based system to flat ground revealed that an offset can be used to calculate overground RR from drum measurements. CONCLUSIONS: Ongoing work includes performing a comprehensive analysis of the degree to which each factor contributes to RR of commonly used casters and rear-wheels so that the wheelchair sector can work to reduce RR and the associated risk of repetitive strain injuries.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: One of the most serious concerns of parents, caregivers, teachers and therapists is children’s independent living, particularly of those with special educational needs (SEN). Purpose-built programs for the acquisition of independent living skills are considered a priority in special education settings. The main problem is the inefficacy of detached interventions to meet the needs of as many students as possible. OBJECTIVE: Our response is to create transmedia applications for inclusive learning environments. To this end, we have taken a participatory design approach to develop a project for Daily Living Skills Training by combining special education…pedagogies, filmic methods, game design and innovative technologies. In this paper, we present the design and development of Waking up In the Morning (WUIM), and its improvement through user-based and expert-based evaluations by students, therapists and developers. The main research purpose is to confirm if: (1) the final products of the WUIM project could be educational resources for students with SEN and (2) the common gaming experience could promote collaborative learning, regardless of students’ cognitive profile. METHODS: During the alpha phase, we developed and improved WUIM. In July 2020, we implemented and evaluated WUIM in special education settings (beta-phase). More specifically, a quantitative and qualitative formative evaluation was conducted with children who have developmental disabilities (N = 11), their therapists (N = 7) and developers (N = 2). Methods of data collection included questionnaires filled in by therapists and developers, participant observation by researchers and interviews with children. RESULTS: The results of the formative evaluation were generally positive regarding four-factor groups that shape the learning experience: Content, Technical characteristics, User state of mind, Characteristics that allow learning. After the design team reviewed the potential users and experts’ comments that were mainly related to the user interface, the application was improved. CONCLUSIONS: The two hypotheses have been largely confirmed. Overall, we propose a simplified development process that showcases the importance of arts-based methods and aesthetics which deliver representational fidelity. The study reveals the necessity of developing transmedia learning materials to meet each individual’s needs.
Keywords: Augmented reality, game design, game development, gamification, developmental disabilities, independent living, transmedia learning, virtual reality, 360-degree interactive videos