• Design, development and deployment of a hand/wrist exoskeleton for home-based rehabilitation after stroke - SCRIPT project

      Amirabdollahian, F.; Ates, S.; Basteris, A.; Cesario, A.; Buurke, J.H.; Hermens, H.J.; Hofs, D.; Johansson, E.; Mountain, Gail; Nasr, N.; et al. (2014-12)
      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.
    • The experience of living with stroke and using technology: opportunities to engage and co-design with end users

      Nasr, N.; Leon, B.; Mountain, Gail; Nijenhuis, S.M.; Prange, G.B.; Sale, P.; Amirabdollahian, F. (2016)
      Purpose: We drew on an interdisciplinary research design to examine stroke survivors’ experiences of living with stroke and with technology in order to provide technology developers with insight into values, thoughts and feelings of the potential users of a to-be-designed robotic technology for home-based rehabilitation of the hand and wrist. Method: Ten stroke survivors and their family carers were purposefully selected. On the first home visit, they were introduced to cultural probe. On the second visit, the content of the probe packs were used as prompt to conduct one-to-one interviews with them. The data generated was analysed using thematic analysis. A third home visit was conducted to evaluate the early prototype. Results: User requirements were categorised into their network of relationships, their attitude towards technology, their skills, their goals and motivations. The user requirements were used to envision the requirements of the system including providing feedback on performance, motivational aspects and usability of the system. Participants’ views on the system requirements were obtained during a participatory evaluation. Conclusion: This study showed that prior to the development of technology, it is important to engage with potential users to identify user requirements and subsequently envision system requirements based on users’ views.
    • Feasibility study into self-administered training at home using an arm and hand device with motivational gaming environment in chronic stroke

      Nijenhuis, S.M.; Prange, G.B.; Amirabdollahian, F.; Sale, P.; Infarinato, F.; Nasr, N.; Mountain, Gail; Hermens, H.J.; Stienen, A.H.A.; Buurke, J.H.; et al. (2015-10-09)
      Background: Assistive and robotic training devices are increasingly used for rehabilitation of the hemiparetic arm after stroke, although applications for the wrist and hand are trailing behind. Furthermore, applying a training device in domestic settings may enable an increased training dose of functional arm and hand training. The objective of this study was to assess the feasibility and potential clinical changes associated with a technology-supported arm and hand training system at home for patients with chronic stroke. Methods: A dynamic wrist and hand orthosis was combined with a remotely monitored user interface with motivational gaming environment for self-administered training at home. Twenty-four chronic stroke patients with impaired arm/hand function were recruited to use the training system at home for six weeks. Evaluation of feasibility involved training duration, usability and motivation. Clinical outcomes on arm/hand function, activity and participation were assessed before and after six weeks of training and at two-month follow-up. Results: Mean System Usability Scale score was 69 % (SD 17 %), mean Intrinsic Motivation Inventory score was 5.2 (SD 0.9) points, and mean training duration per week was 105 (SD 66) minutes. Median Fugl-Meyer score improved from 37 (IQR 30) pre-training to 41 (IQR 32) post-training and was sustained at two-month follow-up (40 (IQR 32)). The Stroke Impact Scale improved from 56.3 (SD 13.2) pre-training to 60.0 (SD 13.9) post-training, with a trend at follow-up (59.8 (SD 15.2)). No significant improvements were found on the Action Research Arm Test and Motor Activity Log. Conclusions: Remotely monitored post-stroke training at home applying gaming exercises while physically supporting the wrist and hand showed to be feasible: participants were able and motivated to use the training system independently at home. Usability shows potential, although several usability issues need further attention. Upper extremity function and quality of life improved after training, although dexterity did not. These findings indicate that home-based arm and hand training with physical support from a dynamic orthosis is a feasible tool to enable self-administered practice at home. Such an approach enables practice without dependence on therapist availability, allowing an increase in training dose with respect to treatment in supervised settings.