Assistive Technology for the Upper Extremities After Stroke: Systematic Review of Users’ Needs

Anne L. van Ommeren (Corresponding Author), Laura C. Smulders, Gerdienke B. Prange-Lasonder, Jaap H. Buurke, Peter H. Veltink, Johan S. Rietman

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    Abstract

    Background: Technical innovations have the potential to compensate for loss of upper-limb motor functions after stroke. However, majority of the designs do not completely meet the needs and preferences of the end users. User-centered design methods have shown that the attention to user perspectives during development of assistive technology leads to devices that better suit the needs of the users.
    Objective: To get more insight into the factors that can bring the design of assistive technology to higher levels of satisfaction and acceptance, studies about user perspectives on assistive technology for the upper limb after stroke are systematically reviewed.
    Methods: A database search was conducted in PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and Scopus from inception to August 2017, supplemented with a search of reference lists. Methodological quality of the included studies was appraised. User perspectives of stroke survivors, carers, and health care professionals were extracted. A total of 35 descriptive themes were identified, from which 5 overarching themes were derived.
    Results: In total, 9 studies with information gathered from focus groups, questionnaires, and interviews were included. Barriers and enablers influencing the adoption of assistive technology for the upper limb after stroke emerged within 5 overarching but highly interdependent themes: (1) promoting hand and arm performance; (2) attitude toward technology; (3) decision process; (4) usability; and (5) practical applicability.
    Conclusions: Expected use of an assistive technology is facilitated when it has a clear therapeutic base (expected benefit in enhancing function), its users (patients and health care professionals) have a positive attitude toward technology, sufficient information about the assistive technology is available, and usability and practical applicability have been addressed successfully in its design. The interdependency of the identified themes implies that all aspects influencing user perspectives of assistive technology need to be considered when developing assistive technology to enhance its chance of acceptance. The importance of each factor may vary depending on personal factors and the use context, either at home as an assistive aid or for rehabilitation at a clinic.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJMIR Rehabilitation and Assistive Technologies
    Volume5
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2018

    Keywords

    • user perspectives
    • stroke
    • upper limb
    • Assistive technology
    • user-centered design

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