Last updated on May 2019

Impact of Custom Assistive and Adaptive Technology in Rehabilitation


Brief description of study

Madonna's Rehabilitation Engineering Center of Excellence (REC) is continually developing custom devices for persons with disabilities. These devices are created to improve the independence of individuals living with disabilities at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals and in the community. The purpose of this study is to investigate the impact custom assistive and adaptive devices have on patient independence, quality of life, and experience at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals.

Detailed Study Description

Rehabilitation engineering is a relatively new field that encompasses many diverse disciplines in engineering, technology, and medicine. Many hospitals do not have a rehabilitation engineering department and their patients are limited to products that are commercially available. These products are often very expensive and not ideal for the user.

Each individual has unique needs. The REC at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals (MRH), as well as other RECs around the world, are focused on efficiently developing novel devices for specific patient needs and creating robust modifications to existing technologies to redirect something designed for the "average" person into something that is customized to the individual.

At Madonna this service is important for individuals with disabilities. Thus, the purpose of this work is to seek input/feedback from end-users regarding the impact of the adaptive device on their function, independence, and quality of life. The investigators expect that the feedback received may guide future design integrations and will document the impact of such services on individuals with disabilities and their caregivers and clinicians. The main goal is that this feedback will demonstrate how a REC, such as the one at MRH, impacts patients' lives and therefore improves patients' outcomes. Enhanced patient outcome measures are valued by all hospitals, and therefore may encourage other hospitals to establish a REC. Additionally, feedback recorded from participants could be integrated into presentations and publications aimed at knowledge dissemination to communities of interest.

Per current REC and MRH procedures, each patient will utilize a device designed or adapted by a rehabilitation engineer within the REC with input from both patient and clinician, along with other relevant experts. These adaptive devices are expected to vary widely and may include items such as toileting tools (for bowel and bladder control), assistive transfer devices, and electronic devices for environmental control.

Individuals in MRH's inpatient and outpatient programs provide care for individuals with a diverse range and level of disabilities. Approximately 2-3 patients each week receive a custom built assistive device to increase their independence and/or hasten their recovery.

A MRH research staff member will meet with the potential participant after the patient has received the requested REC assistive or adaptive device and have indicated to their therapist that they would like to learn more about the study. The participant and a legal guardian (if appropriate) will be asked to fill out the informed consent/assent, Authorization to Disclose Health Information (to assist in understanding the participant's diagnosis and other potential health problems), and photo/video consent.

Information about relevant functional activities (e.g. feeding, transfers, ambulation) are quantified using functional independence and assessment measures (FIM/FAM scores) while the participant is at MRH. FIM(Functional Independence Measure)/FAM(Functional Assessment Measure) scores may be requested from the participant's primary therapist (if the participant allows via the Authorization to Disclose Health Information) for areas that would be influenced by the use of the assistive or adaptive device (e.g., if a device is built to assist a patient in transferring, scores in relation to the Car transfer category may be requested). These scores may be requested for the most recent date prior to receiving the device, when the patient discharges, and periodically throughout their time at Madonna (e.g., daily scores may be requested to help determine the learning curve required to utilize the device).

As part of this study, the participant will meet with a member of the MRH research staff again after using the assistive device for at least 2 days (maximum of 30 days). As appropriate, individuals utilizing the assistive devices (or their designated respondent if unable to personally respond) will also be asked to complete one or more qualitative and quantitative questionnaires to help understand the impact of the adaptive device on their function, independence, and quality of life. Then each participant will be asked to identify the specific need the device addresses and will rate on a 7-point Likert scale how effective the adaptive device is at addressing the specific need. The clinician or a caregiver may also be asked to complete one or more of the questionnaires while thinking about how the assistive device affects their patient/loved one. Qualitative comments and ratings will be collected on the perceived potential value, ease of use, acceptability, and preference for the device.

Individual patient outcomes will be evaluated as well as similar devices that are utilized for different patients and diagnosis will be compared. Data will also be evaluated with regard to diagnosis and type of assistive device (i.e., toileting, transfer, technology access, etc.) to help understand what types of devices certain populations are lacking. Quantitative data will be analyzed through descriptive, parametric, and nonparametric statistics, as appropriate.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT03567239

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Recruitment Status: Open


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