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      A Co-creation Centre for Accessible Rehabilitation Technology


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          Background: The prevalence of disabling conditions is increasing globally. Rehabilitation improves function and quality of life across many conditions, particularly when applied intensively. The limited workforce, however, cannot deliver evidence-based intensive rehabilitation. By providing individuals with the tools for self- rehabilitation, technology helps bridge the gap between evidence and practise. Few people, however, can access rehabilitation technology. Barriers such as cost, training, education, portability and poor design stand in the way of equitable access. Our group of engineers and researchers have established a centre dedicated to developing accessible technology through close, frequent engagement with users and industry.

          Methods: The centre employs a co-creation model, coupling engineering and science with user experience and industrial partnerships to develop accessible technology and associated processes. Due to the complexity and size of the challenge the initial focus is stroke. Recruited through a medical charity, participants, with a wide range of disabilities, use prototype and commercial technology during an 8-week rehabilitation programme with supervision from health professionals. The centre includes de-weighting systems, neurostimulation, virtual reality, treadmills, bespoke rehab games, communication apps, powered exercise equipment and gamified resistance equipment. Standard outcome measures (International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health) are recorded before, during, immediately after, and 3 months after the intervention and used in combination with an interview to design the initial rehabilitation programme, which is reviewed fortnightly. Qualitative methods (surveys and interviews) are used to capture personal experiences of the programme and individual technology and an advisory group of stroke survivors help interpret outcomes to feed into the technology design process. Ethical approval has been granted for a pilot cohort study with stroke survivors, which is currently underway (01/09/2021–31/12/2021) investigating acceptability and feasibility, due to report findings in 2022.

          Discussion: Through partnerships, research collaborations and a co-creation model a new centre dedicated to the development of accessible rehabilitation technology has been launched and currently undergoing acceptability and feasibility testing with stroke survivors. The centre, through its close engagement with users and industry, has the potential to transform the way rehabilitation technology is developed and help revolutionise the way rehabilitation is delivered.

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          Most cited references35

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          Global estimates of the need for rehabilitation based on the Global Burden of Disease study 2019: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019

          Summary Background Rehabilitation has often been seen as a disability-specific service needed by only few of the population. Despite its individual and societal benefits, rehabilitation has not been prioritised in countries and is under-resourced. We present global, regional, and country data for the number of people who would benefit from rehabilitation at least once during the course of their disabling illness or injury. Methods To estimate the need for rehabilitation, data from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study 2019 were used to calculate the prevalence and years of life lived with disability (YLDs) of 25 diseases, impairments, or bespoke aggregations of sequelae that were selected as amenable to rehabilitation. All analyses were done at the country level and then aggregated to seven regions: World Bank high-income countries and the six WHO regions (ie, Africa, the Americas, Southeast Asia, Europe, Eastern Mediterranean, and Western Pacific). Findings Globally, in 2019, 2·41 billion (95% uncertainty interval 2·34–2·50) individuals had conditions that would benefit from rehabilitation, contributing to 310 million [235–392] YLDs. This number had increased by 63% from 1990 to 2019. Regionally, the Western Pacific had the highest need of rehabilitation services (610 million people [588–636] and 83 million YLDs [62–106]). The disease area that contributed most to prevalence was musculoskeletal disorders (1·71 billion people [1·68–1·80]), with low back pain being the most prevalent condition in 134 of the 204 countries analysed. Interpretation To our knowledge, this is the first study to produce a global estimate of the need for rehabilitation services and to show that at least one in every three people in the world needs rehabilitation at some point in the course of their illness or injury. This number counters the common view of rehabilitation as a service required by only few people. We argue that rehabilitation needs to be brought close to communities as an integral part of primary health care to reach more people in need. Funding Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
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            Usefulness of the Berg Balance Scale in stroke rehabilitation: a systematic review.

            In a recent study of 655 physical therapists working with a stroke population, the Berg Balance Scale (BBS) was identified as the most commonly used assessment tool across the continuum of stroke rehabilitation. Given the widespread popularity of the BBS, it is important to critically appraise the BBS for its use with a stroke population. The purposes of this study were to conduct a systematic review of the psychometric properties of the BBS specific to stroke and to identify strengths and weaknesses in its usefulness for stroke rehabilitation. Twenty-one studies examining the psychometric properties of the BBS with a stroke population were retrieved. Internal consistency was excellent (Cronbach alpha=.92-.98) as was interrater reliability (intraclass correlation coefficients [ICCs]=.95-.98), intrarater reliability (ICC=.97), and test-retest reliability (ICC=.98). Sixteen studies focused on validity and generally found excellent correlations with the Barthel Index, the Postural Assessment Scale for Stroke Patients, Functional Reach Test, the balance subscale of Fugl-Meyer Assessment, the Functional Independence Measure, the Rivermead Mobility Index (except for weight shift and step-up items), and gait speed. Berg Balance Scale scores predicted length of stay, discharge destination, motor ability at 180 days poststroke, and disability level at 90 days, but these scores were not predictive of falls. Eight studies focused on responsiveness; all reported moderate to excellent sensitivity. Three studies found floor or ceiling effects. The BBS is a psychometrically sound measure of balance impairment for use in poststroke assessment. Given the floor and ceiling effects, clinicians may want to use the BBS in conjunction with other balance measures.
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              Motor recovery after stroke: a systematic review.

              Loss of functional movement is a common consequence of stroke for which a wide range of interventions has been developed. In this Review, we aimed to provide an overview of the available evidence on interventions for motor recovery after stroke through the evaluation of systematic reviews, supplemented by recent randomised controlled trials. Most trials were small and had some design limitations. Improvements in recovery of arm function were seen for constraint-induced movement therapy, electromyographic biofeedback, mental practice with motor imagery, and robotics. Improvements in transfer ability or balance were seen with repetitive task training, biofeedback, and training with a moving platform. Physical fitness training, high-intensity therapy (usually physiotherapy), and repetitive task training improved walking speed. Although the existing evidence is limited by poor trial designs, some treatments do show promise for improving motor recovery, particularly those that have focused on high-intensity and repetitive task-specific practice.

                Author and article information

                Front Rehabil Sci
                Front Rehabil Sci
                Front. Rehabilit. Sci.
                Frontiers in Rehabilitation Sciences
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                07 January 2022
                : 2
                : 820929
                [1] 1Biomedical Engineering, University of Strathclyde , Glasgow, United Kingdom
                [2] 2Psychological Sciences and Health, University of Strathclyde , Glasgow, United Kingdom
                [3] 3Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland , Glasgow, United Kingdom
                Author notes

                Edited by: John M. Solomon, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, India

                Reviewed by: Alessandro Giustini, Istituto di Riabilitazione Santo Stefano, Italy; Ljubica Konstantinovic, University of Belgrade, Serbia

                *Correspondence: Andy Kerr a.kerr@ 123456strath.ac.uk

                This article was submitted to Disability, Rehabilitation, and Inclusion, a section of the journal Frontiers in Rehabilitation Sciences

                Copyright © 2022 Kerr, Grealy, Kuschmann, Rutherford and Rowe.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                : 23 November 2021
                : 13 December 2021
                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 3, Equations: 0, References: 35, Pages: 7, Words: 3977
                Rehabilitation Sciences
                Brief Research Report

                rehabilitation, technology, accessible, stroke, co-creation


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