Purpose: This abstract reports a qualitative study on a home-based stroke telerehabilitation system. The telerehabilitation system delivers treatment sessions in the form of daily guided rehabilitation games, exercises, and stroke education at the patient’s home. Therapists examine patients then establish regular videoconferences with them via the system to discuss their progress, provide feedback, and adjust treatment. The aims of this study were to investigate patients’ general impressions about the benefits of and barriers to using the telerehabilitation system at home.
Methods: We used a qualitative study design that involved in-depth semi-structured interviews with 10 participants who had completed a 6-week intervention using the telerehabilitation system. Thematic analysis was conducted using the grounded theory approach.
Results: Participants mostly reported positive experiences with the telerehabilitation system. Benefits included observed improvements in limb functions and provision of an outlet for mental tension and anxiety. They mainly valued the following four merits of the system: engaging game experience, flexibility in time and location in using the system, having the therapists accountable, and having less burden on caregivers. In particular, all participants rated highly their experience using the videoconference capability, which provided a channel for therapists to observe, correct, and provide feedback and encouragement to patients. Most patients expressed that they established a personal connection with the therapist through use of the telerehabilitation system. By doing so, they felt less isolated and more positive and connected. Finally, communicating with therapists three times a week also held patients accountable for completing the exercises. Barriers to system use were all logistics-related, such as the lack of physical space at home, which impeded effective use, and poor internet connection at home.
Conclusions: The telerehabilitation system studied provides patients with home-based access to games, exercises, education, and therapists. Based on participants’ qualitative feedback, it is a promising tool to deliver stroke rehabilitation therapies effectively and remotely to patients at home.