Health-Enabling Technologies for Telerehabilitation of the Shoulder : A Feasibility and User Acceptance Study
BACKGROUND: After discharge from a rehabilitation center the continuation of therapy is necessary to secure already achieved healing progress and sustain (re-)integration into working life. To this end, home-based exercise programs are frequently prescribed. However, many patients do not perform their exercises as frequently as prescribed or even with incorrect movements. The telerehabilitation system AGT-Reha was developed to support patients with shoulder diseases during their home-based aftercare rehabilitation. OBJECTIVES: The presented pilot study AGT-Reha-P2 evaluates the technical feasibility and user acceptance of the home-based telerehabilitation system AGT-Reha. METHODS: A nonblinded, nonrandomized exploratory feasibility study was conducted over a 2-year period in patients' homes. Twelve patients completed a 3-month telerehabilitation exercise program with AGT-Reha. Primary outcome measures are the satisfying technical functionality and user acceptance assessed by technical parameters, structured interviews, and a four-dimensional questionnaire. Secondary endpoints are the medical rehabilitation success measured by the active range of motion and the shoulder function (pain and disability) assessed by employing the Neutral-0 Method and the standardized questionnaire "Shoulder Pain and Disability Index" (SPADI), respectively. To prepare an efficacy trial, various standardized questionnaires were included in the study to measure ability to work, capacity to work, and subjective prognosis of work capacity. The participants have been assessed at three measurement points: prebaseline (admission to rehabilitation center), baseline (discharge from rehabilitation center), and posttherapy. RESULTS: Six participants used the first version of AGT-Reha, while six other patients used an improved version. Despite minor technical problems, all participants successfully trained on their own with AGT-Reha at home. On average, participants trained at least once per day during their training period. Five of the 12 participants showed clinically relevant improvements of shoulder function (improved SPADI score > 11). The work-related parameters suggested a positive impact. All participants would recommend the system, ten participants would likely reuse it, and seven participants would have wanted to continue their use after 3 months. CONCLUSION: The findings show that home-based training with AGT-Reha is feasible and well accepted. Outcomes of SPADI indicate the effectiveness of aftercare with AGT-Reha. A controlled clinical trial to test this hypothesis will be conducted with a larger number of participants.