Technology has a significant impact on rehabilitation, so it is necessary to learn how to design appropriate technologies for the domestic setting and the requirements and motivations of those who live there.
Fremont, CA: Designing interactive technologies to aid rehabilitation from stroke-related impairment has been a research topic for many years. Some studies have since broadened to include a wide range of robotic installations aimed at assisting in the rehabilitation of motor abilities and approaches such as virtual reality content to motivate physical engagement with robotic installations and ground motor skill relearning in real-world scenarios. Many of these installations are aimed at high-throughput healthcare settings where people will only be present for a brief time.
Most rehabilitation occurs after discharge, often at home, and health systems have typically underfunded this period. As a result, there has been a transition in service delivery from hospital-based rehabilitation to community-based rehabilitation in recent years. Although therapy should ideally continue until maximum recovery is reached, rising demand for services combined with budget restrictions means that service needs are frequently unmet, potentially resulting in inferior results for stroke survivors. Self-management, which has also been translated into the concept of self-care, is a radical alternative paradigm that has been explored through programs such as the Expert Patient Program. The goal of self-care is to empower people to take charge of their health and well-being with the help of services that make this possible.
Even on a technological level, the widespread availability of home-based technologies poses a different problem from that of clinical technology. Home-based technology deployment may naturally lend itself to commodified technologies with a considerably lower unit price to encourage large-scale adoption. The house should not be viewed as a smaller-scale, lower-intensity clinic version regarding technology design and deployment.
Given that brain injuries can cause a wide range of disabilities and thus make living in a space more difficult, stroke survivors' homes are likely to face additional challenges unique to the disruption that stroke can cause, which rehabilitation technology designers or deployers should consider in their work. Suppose rehabilitation technology is not adequately developed to have a place in the homes of stroke survivors. In that case, there is a risk that it may just become another burden, used infrequently and thus inefficient at helping rehabilitation. Integration of interactive rehabilitation technologies into home-based therapy treatment is likely to require a deep grasp of the obstacles that this setting poses for technology development work if it becomes widely adopted.