Changes in world-wide population trends have provided new demands for new technologies in areas such as care and rehabilitation. Recent developments in the the field of robotics for neurorehabilitation have shown a range of evidence regarding usefulness of these technologies as a tool to augment traditional physiotherapy. Part of the appeal for these technologies is the possibility to place a rehabilitative tool in one's home, providing a chance for more frequent and accessible technologies for empowering individuals to be in charge of their therapy.
Objective: this manuscript introduces the Supervised Care and Rehabilitation Involving Personal Tele-robotics (SCRIPT) project. The main goal is to demonstrate design and development steps involved in a complex intervention, while examining feasibility of using an instrumented orthotic device for home-based rehabilitation after stroke.
Methods: the project uses a user-centred design methodology to develop a hand/wrist rehabilitation device for home-based therapy after stroke. The patient benefits from a dedicated user interface that allows them to receive feedback on exercise as well as communicating with the health-care professional. The health-care professional is able to use a dedicated interface to send/receive communications and remote-manage patient's exercise routine using provided performance benchmarks. Patients were involved in a feasibility study (n=23) and were instructed to use the device and its interactive games for 180 min per week, around 30 min per day, for a period of 6 weeks, with a 2-months follow up. At the time of this study, only 12 of these patients have finished their 6 weeks trial plus 2 months follow up evaluation.
Results: with the “use feasibility” as objective, our results indicate 2 patients dropping out due to technical difficulty or lack of personal interests to continue. Our frequency of use results indicate that on average, patients used the SCRIPT1 device around 14 min of self-administered therapy a day. The group average for the system usability scale was around 69% supporting system usability.
Conclusions: based on the preliminary results, it is evident that stroke patients were able to use the system in their homes. An average of 14 min a day engagement mediated via three interactive games is promising, given the chronic stage of stroke. During the 2nd year of the project, 6 additional games with more functional relevance in their interaction have been designed to allow for a more variant context for interaction with the system, thus hoping to positively influence the exercise duration. The system usability was tested and provided supporting evidence for this parameter. Additional improvements to the system are planned based on formative feedback throughout the project and during the evaluations. These include a new orthosis that allows a more active control of the amount of assistance and resistance provided, thus aiming to provide a more challenging interaction.