Perceptions of Existing Wearable Robotic Devices for Upper Extremity and Suggestions for Their Development: Findings From Therapists and People With Stroke

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Scholarly level: 
Graduate student (PhD)
Final version published as: 

Elnady, Ahmed & Mortenson, W & Menon, Carlo. (2018). Perceptions of Existing Wearable Robotic Devices for Upper Extremity and Suggestions for Their Development: Findings From Therapists and People With Stroke. JMIR Rehabilitation and Assistive Technologies. 5. e12. DOI: 10.2196/rehab.9535.

Date created: 
2018-05-15
Keywords: 
Qualitative research
Focus group
Wearable devices
Rehabilitation
Upper extremity
Abstract: 

Background: Advances in wearable robotic technologies have increased the potential of these devices for rehabilitation and as assistive devices. However, the utilization of these devices is still limited and there are questions regarding how well these devices address users’ (therapists and patients) needs.

Objective: The aims of this study were to (1) describe users’ perceptions about existing wearable robotic devices for the upper extremity; (2) identify if there is a need to develop new devices for the upper extremity and the desired features; and (3) explore obstacles that would influence the utilization of these new devices.

Methods: Focus groups were held to collect data. Data were analyzed thematically.

Results: A total of 16 participants took part in the focus group discussions. Our analysis identified three main themes: (1) “They exist, but...” described participants’ perceptions about existing devices for upper extremity; (2) “Indeed, we need more, can we have it all?” reflected participants’ desire to have new devices for the upper extremity and revealed heterogeneity among different participants; and (3) “Bumps on the road” identified challenges that the participants felt needed to be taken into consideration during the development of these devices.

Conclusions: This study resonates with previous research that has highlighted the importance of involving end users in the design process. The study suggests that having a single solution for stroke rehabilitation or assistance could be challenging or even impossible, and thus, engineers should clearly identify the targeted stroke population needs before the design of any device for the upper extremity.

Language: 
English
Document type: 
Article
File(s): 
Sponsor(s): 
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)
Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
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