[ARTICLE] User-centered design of a patient’s work station for haptic robot-based telerehabilitation after stroke – Full Text

Abstract:

Robotic therapy devices have been an important part of clinical neurological rehabilitation for several years. Until now such devices are only available for patients receiving therapy inside rehabilitation hospitals. Since patients should continue rehabilitation training after hospital discharge at home, intelligent robotic rehab devices could help to achieve this goal. This paper presents therapeutic requirements and early phases of the user-centered design process of the patient’s work station as part of a novel robot-based system for motor telerehabilitation.

1 Introduction

Stroke is one of the dominant causes of acquired disability [1] and it is the second leading cause of death worldwide [2]. The high incidence of the disease and the current demographic developments are likely to increase the number of stroke patients in the future. Most of the survivors have physical, cognitive and functional limitations and require intensive rehabilitation in order to resume independent everyday life [3]. Therefore, the main goal of motor rehabilitation is relearning of voluntary movement capability, a process which takes at least several months, some improvement can occur even after years. In the rehabilitation clinic, patients usually receive a daily intensive therapy program. However, for further improvement of motor abilities, severely affected patients are required to continue their rehabilitation training outside the rehabilitation settings, after being discharged from the rehabilitation clinic. Langhammer and Stanghelle [4] found that a lack of follow-up rehabilitation treatment at home leads to deterioration of activities of daily living (ADL) and to motor functions in general. A possible solution is an individualized and motivating telerehabilitation system in the patient’s domestic environment. Some studies [5], [6] have confirmed the advantage of home rehabilitation after stroke and showed that telerehabilitation received high acceptance and satisfaction, both from patients, as well as from health professionals [7]. Most of the existing telesystems [7], [8] are based on audio-visual conferencing or on virtual environments and contain rather simple software for monitoring patients’ condition. However, in neurological rehabilitation the sensorimotor loop needs to be activated by provision of physiological haptic feedback (touch and proprioception) [3].

Robot-based rehabilitation is currently one of the most prevalent therapeutic approaches. It is often applied in hospitals alongside conventional therapy and is beneficial for motor recovery [9]. Rehabilitation training including a haptic-therapy device may therefore be even more promising for home environments than non-haptic telerehabilitation. Several telerehabilitation systems, which include not only audio and visual, but also haptic modality, already exist [10], [11] . Most of these solutions use low-cost commercial haptic devices (e.g. joysticks) for therapy training, with the goal of cost minimization and providing procurable technology. Nonetheless, devices specifically developed for stroke rehabilitation, which are already established in clinical settings, may have greater impact on motor relearning and could therefore also be more effective at home, compared with existing home rehabilitation devices.

In a previous paper [12], we presented a concept and design overview of a haptic robot-based telerehabilitation system for upper extremities which is currently under development. In the present work, we describe therapeutic requirements, user-centred development [13] and implementation of the patient’s station of the telesystem.

Continue —> User-centered design of a patient’s work station for haptic robot-based telerehabilitation after stroke : Current Directions in Biomedical Engineering

Figure 3 Implementation of the patient’s work station based on Reha-Slide (left) and Bi-Manu-Track (right).

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