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2022 Student Scientific Papers

Winners
$200 Cash Prize

Development of an online questionnaire examining stakeholder perception of the CRT service delivery process
Lead Author:  Tyler Beauregard 
University:  Ohio State University

Abstract: Five and a half million US adults use a wheelchair. The process of matching an individual with a wheelchair is complex, multifaceted, and requires specialized knowledge. Complex systems, like this, have many potential points of failure, and determining priorities for system improvement is challenging. To aid in this decision making, we developed a questionnaire aimed at elucidating the level of satisfaction in the process of obtaining a wheelchair of stakeholders. The questions for the questionnaire were based on themes from a scoping review completed previously. The questions were initially written by the project team and refined over the course of 3 reviews of subject matter experts. The result was a clear, relevant questionnaire containing 19 Likert scale type questions that range the service delivery process. We utilized a snowball sampling strategy and emailed 42 organizations representing each of the targeted stakeholder groups inviting participation in the questionnaire and requesting that the email be forwarded to the members. For analysis, responses were dichotomized as feeling that a given aspect of the wheelchair provision process works well, or not, operationalized as responses of “completely" or "mostly agree." This preliminary analysis includes 736 valid responses from across the United States, 38% from clinicians, 30% from consumers/caregivers, 27% from suppliers, 4% from manufactures, and 1% from payers. Averaged across all questions, 17% of all respondents had a positive perception as did 28% of payers, suppliers 22%. clinicians 17%, manufacturers 17%, and consumers/caregivers 12%. There is clear need for extensive reform in the CRT service delivery process within the United States. No group of stakeholders who are a part of the process has a positive perception of how it plays out in their lives. Further research is necessary to identify highest priority target for improvement efforts but the current system is untenable and requires change.

Usability evaluation of application forms for augmentative & alternative communication (AAC) technology in Canada
Lead Author:  Jillian Henderson
University:  Queen's University

Abstract: In June of 2018, the Government of Canada introduced Bill C-81, an act to ensure a barrier-free Canada, “The Accessible Canada Act”. Alternative and augmentative (AAC) systems enable persons to communicate, yet access to these devices is limited. While Ontario’s Assistive Device Program has been reviewed, provision of these services through other government funded and charitable organizations in each province and territory have not been assessed for usability and accessibility. The objective of this research is to evaluate the websites and the application processes for financial assistance and equipment loan programs of organizations across Canada that provide AAC technology access. Once organizations that provide support for individuals who required AAC technology were identified for each province and territory across Canada, evaluation matrices were developed and used to determine the accessibility of each website and their respective application forms. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) score and Flesch Kincaid Reading Ease of each website were also determined, with average scores of 80.3/100 and 52.1/100, respectively. Nineteen of the 22 websites had a reading score below the recommended 65/100, suggesting that the sites were difficult to read. Thirteen of the 22 required an external recommendation or prescription from a clinical practitioner to be able to apply to the assistive program, which can be expensive and not covered by the programs. Eighteen of the 22 organizations did not have clear timelines on when or if funding or equipment would be provided. It was determined there were barriers in accessing the AAC technology within Canada. This research is significant as AAC device selection is limited through government funded and charitable organizations and/or service provider programs. It is important that the process of application to these programs is clear and barrier free.

Usability and acceptability of the TransKinect application for the assessment of independent wheelchair transfer technique with novice therapists.
Lead Author:  Ahlad Neti 
Additional Authors:  Ahlad Neti, Celia Davis, Cheng-Shiu Chung, Nithin Ayiluri, Brooke Slavens, Alicia Koontz
University:  University of Pittsburgh

Abstract: Throughout an average day, a wheelchair user may perform between 15 to 40 transfers which are crucial for achieving independence with activities of daily living. It is imperative that proper technique is used during the transfer to prevent predisposition to upper extremity pain or discomfort. Methods to analyze and evaluate sitting-pivot transfer (SPT) technique include the Transfer Assessment Instrument (TAI), a reliable and valid paper-based scale that measures the ergonomic and biomechanical quality of SPTs. However, because the body of knowledge on proper transfer technique has evolved so quickly, many therapists may not know about the TAI. While the TAI is a useful tool to identify transfer deficits, it is not currently optimized for clinical use; requiring familiarization with TAI principles and a subjective analysis of biomechanics. As a result, we developed the TransKinect, a software application that works with a Microsoft Kinect sensor and machine learning algorithms to objectively track the kinematics of SPTs, automate the TAI score, and provide feedback on the quality of SPT. Our goal for this study was to test the usability of the TransKinect with therapists who were not involved in the development. Fifteen occupational and physical therapists conducted two transfer assessments on a mock patient using the TransKinect application. The study team observed and scored the therapist on their ability to independently perform various components involved in the application. Following the trial, the therapist completed the System Usability Scale and Questionnaire for User Interface Satisfaction. The results showed overall high independence in using the system (86.7%), high usability (86.2%) and high satisfaction (82.3%). Future work will include iterating the software and training materials based on feedback received and testing the usability and utility of Transkinect in a real-world clinical setting.


Runners Up
$75 Cash Prize

Electromechanical Design of a Socially Assistive Robot (SAR) for the Upper Limb Rehabilitation of Children with Complex Neuromotor Disorders
Lead Author: Madeline Blankenship
Additional Authors: Madeline Blankenship, Erin Radcliffe, Cathy Bodine
University: University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus

Abstract: Children with neuromotor disorders commonly experience upper limb impairments that contribute to decreased activity and participation. Socially Assistive Robots are designed to motivate, train, supervise, educate, or facilitate rehabilitation. The goal of this project was to develop a first iteration, minimally viable SAR in an 8-week design sprint that meets the technical and user requirements of the socially assistive robot upper limb rehabilitation use case for children with neuromotor dysfunction created in collaboration with pediatric therapists. After 8-weeks, we demonstrated the viability of the SAR and prepared for user testing with clinical experts, typically developing children, and children with neuromotor dysfunction. However, the results of the prototype evaluation revealed several design improvements that will be implemented in future iterations.

myAccessTools Development for Novice Raters to Accurately Assess Accessibility of Buildings
Lead Author: Mason Drake
University: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Abstract: The AccessTools accessibility application from the AccessRatings for Buildings (ARB) project currently requires users to possess knowledge of building accessibility to accurately evaluate restaurants. Because not all potential users of AccessTools have prior knowledge regarding restaurant accessibility, the myAccessTools app was developed. Methods: The myAccessTools taxonomy was split into two sections, functions and features. Function items were created to examine if particular occupations are required to utilize building features. The feature items in the assessment investigated what building elements existed in the restaurant. Each portion was based off the AccessTools taxonomy. New descriptions were formulated and scoring label changes were implemented to simplify the utilization of the assessment for users. Results: A prototype of the myAccessTools app was successfully created with a new taxonomy and altered scoring options. Discussion: Despite the creation of a functioning myAccessTools prototype, further testing needs to be conducting to validate myAccessTools’ use as a form of assistive technology that is beneficial in assessing the accessibility of restaurants for people with disabilities (PWD). Conclusion: The myAccessTools application has the potential to be an accurate measurement of restaurant accessibility with increased efficacy in use compared to AccessTools.

Preliminary design of an active planar upper limb rehabilitation robotic device
Lead Author: Gabrielle Lemire 
Additional Authors: Gabrielle Lemire , Simon Latour, Andréanne Blanchette, Véronique Flamand, Alexandre Campeau-Lecours
University: Université Laval

Abstract: This paper presents the development of a low-cost active planar upper limb rehabilitation robotic device, which aims to help in the rehabilitation process of people living with movement disorders. Many people living with conditions such as cerebral palsy, stroke, spinal cord injury or muscular dystrophy experience upper limb impairments (muscle spasticity, lack of selective motor control, muscle weakness or tremors), and require physical and occupational therapy to maintain or gain motor performance. The proposed device is designed to be fixed on a table. Direct current (DC) motors control the two degrees of freedom (DOF) of the mechanism. The user interacts with the device using a handle. The device is designed so that the handle stays in the same orientation all the time. The device offers different levels of assistance to guide planar movements, going from a complete assistance, where the user is guided by the mechanism that performs predefined movements recorded by the therapist, to the addition of resistance during the movement, where the user moves the end effector without the help of the mechanism and the latter adds perturbations.

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