Usability of affordable feedback-based technologies to improve mobility and physical activity in rehabilitation: a mixed methods study

Caitlin Hamilton, Meryl Lovarini, Maayken van den Berg, Annie McCluskey, Leanne Hassett

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Purpose: To explore physiotherapists’ views on the usability of feedback-based technologies used in physical rehabilitation. Materials and methods: A mixed methods study which was nested within a randomised controlled trial to investigate the effectiveness of affordable feedback-based technologies to improve mobility and physical activity within aged care and neurological rehabilitation. Technologies included virtual reality systems, handheld device apps and wearable devices. Physiotherapists (n = 11) who were involved in prescribing technologies during the trial rated the usability of 11 different devices using the System Usability Scale (SUS), then attended a focus group. Descriptive statistics and framework analysis were used for analysis. Results: Fitbit devices (mean 89.8, SD 9.3), Fysiogaming (mean 75.6, SD 15.3) and Xbox Kinect (mean 75.5, SD 11.2) rated in the acceptable range (>70) on the SUS. Three key factors on usability emerged from the focus groups: (1) Key device features relating to practicalities (ease of set up and use, reliability, safety) and therapeutic benefit (customisation, high active practice time, useful feedback) are important for usability; (2) Usability depends on the context of use; and (3) Usability can be enhanced with technical, clinical, environmental and financial support. Conclusions: Health service managers and clinicians should consider key device features identified, contextual factors of their service, and supports available when selecting technologies for use in clinical practice. Further collaboration between clinicians, researchers and technology developers would benefit future technology development, particularly taking into consideration the identified key device features from this study.IMPLICATIONS FOR REHABILITATION Technology selection should be based on key device features relating to both practicalities and therapeutic benefit. Contextual factors and available supports should also be considered when selecting technologies. Key usability features identified in this study such as ease of set up, reliability and customisability should be considered in the design of future feedback-based technologies to optimise usability in physical rehabilitation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages10
    JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
    Early online date28 Feb 2021
    DOIs
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Feb 2021

    Keywords

    • balance
    • exercise therapy
    • gait
    • Physical therapy
    • qualitative
    • videogames
    • walking

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