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Journal Description

JMIR Rehabilitation and Assistive Technologies is a PubMed-indexed journal that focuses on the development and evaluation of rehabilitation and assistive technologies, including assistive living.

As an open access journal, JMIR Rehabilitation and Assistive Technologies is read by both clinicians and patients. The journal fosuses on readable and applied science that reports the design and evaluation of health innovations and emerging technologies. It publishes original research, viewpoints, and reviews (both literature reviews and medical device/technology/app reviews). Articles are carefully copyedited and XML-tagged, ready for submission to PubMed Central.


Recent Articles:

  • Source: The Authors/Placeit; Copyright: The Authors/Placeit; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    An Internet-Based Consumer Resource for People with Low Back Pain (MyBackPain): Development and Evaluation


    People increasingly use the internet to obtain information about health complaints, including low back pain (LBP). LBP is the leading cause of disability internationally, and outcomes are worsening. There is an urgent need for resources that aid improvement of outcomes. There have been calls to engage consumers in the development of resources, but this has rarely been implemented. MyBackPain is a website that was developed with extensive involvement of consumers to ensure that the resource meets their needs for content and presentation. This paper aimed to describe the multistep process undertaken to develop the MyBackPain website and provide an extensive evaluation of its impact. Development of MyBackPain involved 10 steps, many of which have been published in the academic literature. These steps included consultation regarding consumer needs, evaluation of existing internet resources, identification of key messages to be reinforced, identification of frequently asked questions, consensus for content, content development (including development of algorithms to guide tailoring of the user experience), development of consumer-focused evidence-based treatment summaries, development of descriptions of health care providers, and testing. Evaluation included qualitative examination of people’s interactions with the website and its effects on their daily lives and an ongoing randomized controlled trial of impact of use of the site on people’s LBP-related health literacy, clinical outcomes, and treatment choices. It is hoped that the website can aid in the reduction of the massive burden of LBP and provide a template for the development of resources for other conditions.

  • Source: iStockphoto; Copyright: Andresr Imaging; URL:; License: Licensed by the authors.

    A Mobile App Directory of Occupational Therapists Who Provide Home Modifications: Development and Preliminary Usability Evaluation


    Background: Home modifications provided by occupational therapists (OTs) are effective in improving daily activity performance and reducing fall risk among community-dwelling older adults. However, the prevalence of home modification is low. One reason is the lack of a centralized database of OTs who provide home modifications. Objective: This study aimed to develop and test the usability of a mobile app directory of OTs who provide home modifications in the United States. Methods: In phase 1, a prototype was developed by identifying OTs who provide home modifications through keyword Web searches. Referral information was confirmed by phone or email. In phase 2, community-dwelling older adults aged older than 65 years and OTs currently working in the United States were purposefully recruited to participate in a single usability test of the mobile app, Home Modifications for Aging and Disability Directory of Referrals (Home Maddirs). Participants completed the System Usability Scale (SUS) and semistructured interview questions. Interview data were coded, and themes were derived using a grounded theory approach. Results: In phase 1, referral information for 101 OTs across 49 states was confirmed. In phase 2, 6 OTs (mean clinical experience 4.3 years, SD 1.6 years) and 6 older adults (mean age 72.8 years, SD 5.0 years) participated. The mean SUS score for OTs was 91.7 (SD 8.0; out of 100), indicating good usability. The mean SUS score for older adults was 71.7 (SD 27.1), indicating considerable variability in usability. In addition, the SUS scores indicated that the app is acceptable to OTs and may be acceptable to some older adults. For OTs, self-reported barriers to acceptability and usability included the need for more information on the scope of referral services. For older adults, barriers included high cognitive load, lack of operational skills, and the need to accommodate sensory changes. For both groups, facilitators of acceptability and usability included perceived usefulness, social support, and multiple options to access information. Conclusions: Home Maddirs demonstrates good preliminary acceptability and usability to OTs. Older adults’ perceptions regarding acceptability and usability varied considerably, partly based on prior experience using mobile apps. Results will be used to make improvements to this promising new tool for increasing older adults’ access to home modifications.

  • Source: Image created by the Authors; Copyright: The Authors; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution + Noncommercial + NoDerivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND).

    The Practical Work of Ensuring the Effective Use of Serious Games in a Rehabilitation Clinic: Qualitative Study


    Background: Many rehabilitation clinics adopted serious games to support their physiotherapy sessions. Serious games can monitor and provide feedback on exercises and are expected to improve therapy and help professionals deal with more patients. However, there is little understanding of the impacts of serious games on the actual work of physiotherapists. Objective: This study aimed to understand the impact of an electromyography-based serious game on the practical work of physiotherapists. Methods: This study used observation sessions in an outpatient rehabilitation clinic that recently started using a serious game based on electromyography sensors. In total, 44 observation sessions were performed, involving 3 physiotherapists and 22 patients. Observation sessions were documented by audio recordings or fieldnotes and were analyzed for themes using thematic analysis. Results: The findings of this study showed that physiotherapists played an important role in enabling the serious game to work. Physiotherapists briefed patients, calibrated the system, prescribed exercises, and supported patients while they played the serious game, all of which amounted to relevant labor. Conclusions: The results of this work challenge the idea that serious games reduce the work of physiotherapists and call for an overall analysis of the different impacts a serious game can have. Adopting a serious game that creates more work can be entirely acceptable, provided the clinical outcomes or other advantages enabled by the serious game are strong; however, those impacts will have to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Moreover, this work motivates the technology development community to better investigate physiotherapists and their context, offering implications for technology design.

  • Source: Image created by the Authors; Copyright: Byron Lai; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Accuracy and Precision of Three Consumer-Grade Motion Sensors During Overground and Treadmill Walking in People With Parkinson Disease: Cross-Sectional...


    Background: Wearable motion sensors are gaining popularity for monitoring free-living physical activity among people with Parkinson disease (PD), but more evidence supporting the accuracy and precision of motion sensors for capturing step counts is required in people with PD. Objective: This study aimed to examine the accuracy and precision of 3 common consumer-grade motion sensors for measuring actual steps taken during prolonged periods of overground and treadmill walking in people with PD. Methods: A total of 31 ambulatory participants with PD underwent 6-min bouts of overground and treadmill walking at a comfortable speed. Participants wore 3 devices (Garmin Vivosmart 3, Fitbit One, and Fitbit Charge 2 HR), and a single researcher manually counted the actual steps taken. Accuracy and precision were based on absolute and relative metrics, including intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) and Bland-Altman plots. Results: Participants walked 628 steps over ground based on manual counting, and Garmin Vivosmart, Fitbit One, and Fitbit Charge 2 HR devices had absolute (relative) error values of 6 (6/628, 1.0%), 8 (8/628, 1.3%), and 30 (30/628, 4.8%) steps, respectively. ICC values demonstrated excellent agreement between manually counted steps and steps counted by both Garmin Vivosmart (0.97) and Fitbit One (0.98) but poor agreement for Fitbit Charge 2 HR (0.47). The absolute (relative) precision values for Garmin Vivosmart, Fitbit One, and Fitbit Charge 2 HR were 11.1 (11.1/625, 1.8%), 14.7 (14.7/620, 2.4%), and 74.4 (74.4/598, 12.4%) steps, respectively. ICC confidence intervals demonstrated low variability for Garmin Vivosmart (0.96 to 0.99) and Fitbit One (0.93 to 0.99) but high variability for Fitbit Charge 2 HR (–0.57 to 0.74). The Fitbit One device maintained high accuracy and precision values for treadmill walking, but both Garmin Vivosmart and Fitbit Charge 2 HR (the wrist-worn devices) had worse accuracy and precision for treadmill walking. Conclusions: The waist-worn sensor (Fitbit One) was accurate and precise in measuring steps with overground and treadmill walking. The wrist-worn sensors were accurate and precise only during overground walking. Similar research should inform the application of these devices in clinical research and practice involving patients with PD.

  • Source: The Authors / Placeit; Copyright: JMIR Publications; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Website Redesign of a 16-Week Exercise Intervention for People With Spinal Cord Injury by Using Participatory Action Research


    Background: People with spinal cord injury (SCI) are at higher risk for numerous preventable chronic conditions. Physical activity is a protective factor that can reduce this risk, yet those with SCI encounter barriers to activity and are significantly less likely to be active. Limited evidence supports approaches to promote increased physical activity for those with SCI. Objective: Building upon our previous theory- and evidence-based approach to increase participation in regular physical activity for those with SCI, this study aimed to use a participatory action research approach to translate a theory-based intervention to be delivered via the Web to individuals with SCI. Methods: A total of 10 individuals with SCI were invited to participate in consumer input meetings to provide the research team with iterative feedback on an initial website designed as a platform for delivering a theory-based exercise intervention. Results: A total of 7 individuals with SCI whose average age was 43.6 years (SD 13.4) and lived an average age of 12.5 years (SD 14.9) with SCI met on 2 occasions to provide their feedback of the website platform, both on the initial design and subsequently on the revamped site. Their iterative feedback resulted in redesigning the website content, format, and functionality as well as delivery of the intervention program. Conclusions: The substantially redesigned website offers an easier-to-navigate platform for people with SCI with greater functionality that delivers information using a module format with less text, short video segments, and presents more resources. Preliminary testing of the site is the next step.

  • Heel2Toe sensor usage. Source: Image created by the Authors; Copyright: The Authors; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Real-Time Auditory Feedback–Induced Adaptation to Walking Among Seniors Using the Heel2Toe Sensor: Proof-of-Concept Study


    Background: Evidence shows that gait training in older adults is effective in improving the gait pattern, but the effects abate with cessation of training. During gait training, therapists use a number of verbal and visual cues to place the heel first when stepping. This simple strategy changes posture from stooped to upright, lengthens the stride, stimulates pelvic and trunk rotation, and facilitates arm swing. These principles guided the development of the Heel2Toe sensor that provides real-time auditory feedback for each good step, in which the heel strikes first. Objective: This feasibility study aimed (1) to contribute evidence toward the feasibility and efficacy potential for home use of the Heel2Toe sensor that provides real-time feedback and (2) to estimate changes in gait parameters after five training sessions using the sensor. Methods: A pre-post study included 5 training sessions over 2 weeks in the community on a purposive sample of six seniors. Proportion of good steps, angular velocity (AV) at each step, and cadence over a 2- minute period were assessed as was usability and experience. Results: All gait parameters, proportion of good steps, AV, and duration of walking bouts improved. The coefficient of variation of AV decreased, indicating consistency of stepping. Conclusions: Efficacy potential and feasibility of the Heel2Toe sensor were demonstrated.

  • WIMU-GPS. Source: Patrick Boissy; Copyright: Patrick Boissy; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Wrist-Based Accelerometers and Visual Analog Scales as Outcome Measures for Shoulder Activity During Daily Living in Patients With Rotator Cuff Tendinopathy:...


    Background: Shoulder pain secondary to rotator cuff tendinopathy affects a large proportion of patients in orthopedic surgery practices. Corticosteroid injections are a common intervention proposed for these patients. The clinical evaluation of a response to corticosteroid injections is usually based only on the patient’s self-evaluation of his function, activity, and pain by multiple questionnaires with varying metrological qualities. Objective measures of upper extremity functions are lacking, but wearable sensors are emerging as potential tools to assess upper extremity function and activity. Objective: This study aimed (1) to evaluate and compare test-retest reliability and sensitivity to change of known clinical assessments of shoulder function to wrist-based accelerometer measures and visual analog scales (VAS) of shoulder activity during daily living in patients with rotator cuff tendinopathy convergent validity and (2) to determine the acceptability and compliance of using wrist-based wearable sensors. Methods: A total of 38 patients affected by rotator cuff tendinopathy wore wrist accelerometers on the affected side for a total of 5 weeks. Western Ontario Rotator Cuff (WORC) index; Short version of the Disability of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand questionnaire (QuickDASH); and clinical examination (range of motion and strength) were performed the week before the corticosteroid injections, the day of the corticosteroid injections, and 2 and 4 weeks after the corticosteroid injections. Daily Single Assessment Numeric Evaluation (SANE) and VAS were filled by participants to record shoulder pain and activity. Accelerometer data were processed to extract daily upper extremity activity in the form of active time; activity counts; and ratio of low-intensity activities, medium-intensity activities, and high-intensity activities. Results: Daily pain measured using VAS and SANE correlated well with the WORC and QuickDASH questionnaires (r=0.564-0.815) but not with accelerometry measures, amplitude, and strength. Daily activity measured with VAS had good correlation with active time (r=0.484, P=.02). All questionnaires had excellent test-retest reliability at 1 week before corticosteroid injections (intraclass correlation coefficient [ICC]=0.883-0.950). Acceptable reliability was observed with accelerometry (ICC=0.621-0.724), apart from low-intensity activities (ICC=0.104). Sensitivity to change was excellent at 2 and 4 weeks for all questionnaires (standardized response mean=1.039-2.094) except for activity VAS (standardized response mean=0.50). Accelerometry measures had low sensitivity to change at 2 weeks, but excellent sensitivity at 4 weeks (standardized response mean=0.803-1.032). Conclusions: Daily pain VAS and SANE had good correlation with the validated questionnaires, excellent reliability at 1 week, and excellent sensitivity to change at 2 and 4 weeks. Daily activity VAS and accelerometry-derived active time correlated well together. Activity VAS had excellent reliability, but moderate sensitivity to change. Accelerometry measures had moderate reliability and acceptable sensitivity to change at 4 weeks.

  • Telerehabilitation after knee or hip replacement. Source: iStock by Getty Images; Copyright: AndreyPopov; URL:; License: Licensed by the authors.

    The Effectiveness of Telerehabilitation as a Supplement to Rehabilitation in Patients After Total Knee or Hip Replacement: Randomized Controlled Trial


    Background: Telerehabilitation can contribute to the maintenance of successful rehabilitation regardless of location and time. The aim of this study was to investigate a specific three-month interactive telerehabilitation routine regarding its effectiveness in assisting patients with physical functionality and with returning to work compared to typical aftercare. Objective: The aim of the study was to investigate a specific three-month interactive telerehabilitation with regard to effectiveness in functioning and return to work compared to usual aftercare. Methods: From August 2016 to December 2017, 111 patients (mean 54.9 years old; SD 6.8; 54.3% female) with hip or knee replacement were enrolled in the randomized controlled trial. At discharge from inpatient rehabilitation and after three months, their distance in the 6-minute walk test was assessed as the primary endpoint. Other functional parameters, including health related quality of life, pain, and time to return to work, were secondary endpoints. Results: Patients in the intervention group performed telerehabilitation for an average of 55.0 minutes (SD 9.2) per week. Adherence was high, at over 75%, until the 7th week of the three-month intervention phase. Almost all the patients and therapists used the communication options. Both the intervention group (average difference 88.3 m; SD 57.7; P=.95) and the control group (average difference 79.6 m; SD 48.7; P=.95) increased their distance in the 6-minute-walk-test. Improvements in other functional parameters, as well as in quality of life and pain, were achieved in both groups. The higher proportion of working patients in the intervention group (64.6%; P=.01) versus the control group (46.2%) is of note. Conclusions: The effect of the investigated telerehabilitation therapy in patients following knee or hip replacement was equivalent to the usual aftercare in terms of functional testing, quality of life, and pain. Since a significantly higher return-to-work rate could be achieved, this therapy might be a promising supplement to established aftercare. Clinical Trial: German Clinical Trials Register DRKS00010009; navigationId=trial.HTML&TRIAL_ID=DRKS00010009

  • Source: iStock by Getty Images; Copyright: fotostorm; URL:; License: Licensed by the authors.

    Development of a Web-Based Monitoring System for Power Tilt-in-Space Wheelchairs: Formative Evaluation


    Background: A power tilt-in-space wheelchair meets many clinical purposes, including pressure management, increased postural control, and pain management. However, there is a significant gap between the use of tilt as recommended by clinicians and its actual usage. A Web-based electronic health (eHealth) intervention, including a goal setting, monitoring, reminder, and feedback system of the use of power tilt-in-space wheelchairs was developed. The intervention incorporates behavior change principles to promote optimal use of tilt and to improve clinical postprocurement follow-up. Objective: This study aimed to conduct a formative evaluation of the intervention prototype to pinpoint the functionalities needed by end users, namely, power wheelchair users and clinicians. Methods: On the basis of an evaluation framework for Web-based eHealth interventions, semistructured interviews were conducted with power wheelchair users and clinicians. A content analysis was performed with a mix of emerging and a priori concepts. Results: A total of 5 users of power tilt-in-space wheelchairs and 5 clinicians who had experience in the field of mobility aids aged 23 to 55 years were recruited. Participants found the Web interface and the physical components easy to use. They also appreciated the reminder feature that encourages the use of the tilt-in-space and the customization of performance goals. Participants requested improvements to the visual design and learnability of the Web interface, the customization of reminders, feedback about specific tilt parameters, and the bidirectionality of the interaction between the user and the clinician. They thought the current version of the intervention prototype could promote optimal use of the tilt and improve clinical postprocurement follow-up. Conclusions: On the basis of the needs identified by power wheelchair users and clinicians regarding the prototype of a power tilt-in-space wheelchair monitoring system, 3 main directions were defined for future development of the intervention. Further research with new wheelchair users, manual tilt-in-space wheelchairs, various age groups, and family caregivers is recommended to continue the formative evaluation of the prototype.

  • Source: Flickr; Copyright: Jim Makos; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution + NoDerivatives (CC-BY-ND).

    Analyzing the Communication Interchange of Individuals With Disabilities Utilizing Facebook, Discussion Forums, and Chat Rooms: Qualitative Content Analysis...


    Background: Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the United States are currently living with a form of disability. Although the Americans with Disabilities Act has published guidelines to help make developing technology and social networking sites (SNS) more accessible and user-friendly to people with a range of disabilities, persons with disabilities, on average, have less access to the internet than the general population. The quality, content, and medium vary from site to site and have been greatly understudied. Due to this, it is still unclear how persons with disabilities utilize various platforms of online communication for support. Objective: The objective of this study was to qualitatively explore and compare the interactions and connections among online support groups across Facebook, discussion forums, and chat rooms to better understand how persons with disabilities were utilizing different SNS to facilitate communication interchange, disseminate information, and foster community support. Methods: Facebook groups, discussion forums, and chat rooms were chosen based on predetermined inclusion criteria. Data collected included content posted on Facebook groups, forums, and chat rooms as well as the interactions among group members. Data were analyzed qualitatively using the constant comparative method. Results: A total of 133 Facebook posts, 116 forum posts, and 60 hours of chat room discussions were collected and analyzed. In addition, 4 themes were identified for Facebook posts, 3 for discussion forums, and 3 for chat rooms. Persons with disabilities utilized discussion forums and chat rooms in similar ways, but their interactions on Facebook differed in comparison. They seem to interact on a platform based on the specific functions it offers. Conclusions: Interactions on each of the platforms displayed elements of the 4 types of social support, indicating the ability for social support to be facilitated among SNS; however, the type of social support varied by platform. Findings demonstrate that online support platforms serve specific purposes that may not be interchangeable. Through participation on different platforms, persons with disabilities are able to provide and receive social support in various ways, without the barriers and constraints often experienced by this population.

  • Source: freepik; Copyright: peoplecreations; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    A Collaboration Between Game Developers and Rehabilitation Researchers to Develop a Web-Based App for Persons With Physical Disabilities: Case Study


    Background: Individuals with a disability and their partners, who often provide care, are both at risk for depression and lower quality of life. Mobile health (mHealth) interventions are promising to address barriers to mental health care. Rehabilitation researchers and software development researchers must collaborate effectively with each other and with clinical and patient stakeholders to ensure successful mHealth development. Objective: This study aimed to aid researchers interested in mHealth software development by describing the collaborative process between a team of rehabilitation researchers, software development researchers, and stakeholders. Thus, we provide a framework (conceptual model) for other teams to replicate to build a Web-based mHealth app for individuals with physical disability. Methods: Rehabilitation researchers, software development researchers, and stakeholders (people with physical disabilities and clinicians) are involved in an iterative software development process. The overall process of developing an mHealth intervention includes initial development meetings and a co-design method called design box, in which the needs and key elements of the app are discussed. On the basis of the objectives outlined, a prototype is developed and goes through scoping iterations with feedback from stakeholders and end users. The prototype is then tested by users to identify technical errors and gather feedback on usability and accessibility. Results: Illustrating the overall development process, we present a case study based on our experience developing an app (SupportGroove) for couples coping with spinal cord injury. Examples of how we addressed specific challenges are also included. For example, feedback from stakeholders resulted in development of app features for individuals with limited functional ability. Initial designs lacked accessibility design principles made visible by end users. Solutions included large text, single click, and minimal scrolling to facilitate menu navigation for individuals using eye gaze technology. Prototype testing allowed further refinement and demonstrated high usability and engagement with activities in the app. Qualitative feedback indicated high levels of satisfaction, accessibility, and confidence in potential utility. We also present key lessons learned about working in a collaborative interdisciplinary team. Conclusions: mHealth promises to help overcome barriers to mental health intervention access. However, the development of these interventions can be challenging because of the disparate and often siloed expertise required. By describing the mHealth software development process and illustrating it with a successful case study of rehabilitation researchers, software development researchers, and stakeholders collaborating effectively, our goal is to help other teams avoid challenges we faced and benefit from our lessons learned. Ultimately, good interdisciplinary collaboration will benefit individuals with disabilities and their families.

  • Source: Freepik; Copyright: peoplecreations; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologists’ Use of Mobile Health Technology: Qualitative Questionnaire Study


    Background: While technology use in pediatric therapies is increasing, there is so far no research available focusing on how pediatric speech-language pathologists (SLPs) in the United States use technology. Objective: This paper sought to determine if, and to what extent, pediatric SLPs are using mobile applications, to determine what purpose they are using them for, and to identify gaps in available technology to provide guidance for future technological development. Methods: Pediatric SLPs completed an online survey containing five sections: demographics, overall use, use in assessment, use in intervention, barriers, and future directions. Results: Mobile app use by 485 pediatric SLPs in the clinical setting was analyzed. Most (364/438; 83.1%) pediatric SLPs reported using technology ≤50% of the time in their clinical work, with no differences evident by age group (>35 years and ≤35 years) (P=.97). Pediatric SLPs are currently using apps for intervention (399/1105; 36.1%), clinical information (241/1105; 21.8%), parent education (151/1105; 13.7%), assessment (132/1105; 12%), client education (108/1105; 9.8%), and other uses (55/1105; 5.0%). Cost (46/135; 34.1%) and lack of an evidence base (36/135; 26.7%) were the most frequently reported barriers. Most SLPs (268/380; 70.7%) desired more technology use, with no difference evident by age group (P=.81). Conclusions: A majority of pediatric SLPs are using mobile apps less than 50% of the time in a pediatric setting and they use them more during intervention compared to assessment. While pediatric SLPs are hesitant to add to their client’s screen time, they would like more apps to be developed that are supported by research and are less expensive. Implications for future research and app development are also discussed.

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