JMIR Rehabilitation and Assistive Technologies

Development and evaluation of rehabilitation, physiotherapy and assistive technologies, robotics, prosthetics and implants, mobility and communication tools, home automation, and telerehabilitation

Editor-in-Chief:

Peter Rieckmann, MD, FAAN, FEAN, FRCPC - Director, Center for Clinical Neuroplasticity, Medical Park Loipl-Bischofswiesen & Professor of Neurology at Friedrich Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremburg, Germany


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

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Viewpoints and Perspectives in Rehabilitation and Assist Techn

This is a viewpoint paper that aims to describe the systematic approach to the development of a technology-driven stroke rehabilitation innovation to manage disabilities following a stroke at home in India. This paper intends to sensitize public health innovators and intervention development experts about the important aspects that need to be considered to develop a culturally sensitive, patient-centered, scalable solution for stroke care using technology. Stroke has been the second-leading cause of death and the third-leading cause of disability globally for the past 3 decades. The emerging technological innovations for stroke care were predominantly designed and developed by digital technology experts as stand-alone products with very minimal efforts to explore their feasibility, acceptability, and, more importantly, scalability. Hence, a digital therapeutic rehabilitation innovation for people with stroke-related disabilities in India was systematically developed and is being evaluated. ReWin is an innovation that is technologically driven and envisions digital therapeutics as a medium for the provision of rehabilitation to persons with disabilities. It is conceptualized and developed based on the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health. ReWin encompasses specific technological aspects to enable its scientific framework and conceptualization to suit the context and needs of stroke care providers and consumers. The framework is built with 2 separate applications, one for the providers and one for the patients and caregivers. Each of these applications has a specific inbuilt design to add data about the demographic details of the user, stroke severity using the National Institute of Health Stroke Scale, and self-assessment of disability measured by the modified Barthel Index. Users can communicate with each other and decide on their therapeutic goals, therapy training information, and progress remotely from where they are. The ultimate outcome expected from the ReWin innovation is a continuum of care for stroke survivors that is effective, safe, and of good quality. Systematic development cannot make the intervention scalable. The intervention needs to be evaluated for its feasibility, acceptability, and effectiveness. Currently, ReWin is being evaluated for its feasibility and acceptability. The evaluation of ReWin will provide an opportunity to develop a scalable solution for empowering therapists and persons with disabilities, in general, to objectively self-manage their treatment. Findings from this study will also provide valuable information about the resources required to deliver such interventions in resource-constrained settings like India.

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Theme Issue: The Influence of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Rehabilitation

During spring and summer 2020, US states implemented COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, resulting in the closure of rehabilitation facilities and, with them, some of the clinical trials that were taking place. One such trial was the Supervised Versus Telerehabilitation Exercise Program for Multiple Sclerosis (“STEP for MS”) comparative effectiveness multiple sclerosis (MS) exercise trial. Although 1 study arm was implemented via telerehabilitation, the comparative arm took place in rehabilitation facilities nationwide and was subsequently closed during this time frame. The experience of the STEP for MS participants provides insights into the impact of lockdown restrictions on exercise behavior by mode of exercise delivery (telerehabilitation vs conventional facility based).

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Innovations in Exercise Rehabilitation

Bradykinesia and rigidity are prototypical motor impairments of Parkinson disease (PD) highly influencing everyday life. Exercise training is an effective treatment alternative for motor symptoms, complementing dopaminergic medication. High frequency training is necessary to yield clinically relevant improvements. Exercise programs need to be tailored to individual symptoms and integrated in patients’ everyday life. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, exercise groups in outpatient setting were largely reduced. Developing remotely supervised solutions is therefore of significant importance.

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Use and Perceptions of Technology in Everyday Life and for Rehabilitation

Upper extremity function plays a critical role in completing activities of daily living, employment, and participating in recreational activities. The FEPSim device is a medical device for hand and wrist rehabilitation that can be adjusted according to the patient’s requirements in rehabilitation. Furthermore, the FEPSim can be used to assess the patient’s strength and range of motion of the forearm, wrist, and hand. At present, the acceptance and usability of the FEPSim have not been tested in a clinical setting, with limited perspectives from rehabilitation-providing clinicians.

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Assistive Technologies

Executive functions are essential for independently navigating nearly all of our daily activities. Executive dysfunction often occurs as a result of a neurodevelopmental disorder. Persons with executive dysfunction experience challenges regarding independent execution of daily tasks. Social robots might support persons with executive dysfunction to execute daily tasks and promote their feeling of independence.

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Emerging Technologies for Rehabilitation

Electronic health records (EHRs) have the potential to facilitate consistent clinical data capture to support excellence in patient care, quality improvement, and knowledge generation. Despite widespread EHR use, the vision to transform health care system and its data to a "learning health care system" generating knowledge from real-world data is limited by the lack of consistent, structured clinical data.

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Theme Issue: The Influence of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Rehabilitation

Remote treatment, or telehealth, has shown promise for children with cerebral palsy (CP) prior to 2020; however, the beginning of the global COVID-19 pandemic limiting access to hospitals for face-to-face treatments has driven the need for telehealth and led to a surge in its development. Due to the recent developments, there has been limited synthesis of the available evidence of telehealth for children with CP.

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Theme Issue: The Influence of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Rehabilitation

The spread of COVID-19 has affected stroke rehabilitation. Given that inpatient visits are restricted in most institutions, alternative ways of providing information to family members are imperative. Informing families about patients’ rehabilitation progress via the web may help involve families in the rehabilitation process, enhance patients’ motivation to continue rehabilitation, and contribute overall to patients’ improvement in activities of daily living (ADL).

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General Articles on Rehabilitation and Assistive Technologies

In Canada, stroke survivors have difficulty accessing community-based rehabilitation services because of a lack of resources. VirTele, a personalized remote rehabilitation program combining virtual reality exergames and telerehabilitation, was developed to provide stroke survivors an opportunity to pursue rehabilitation of their chronic upper extremity (UE) deficits at home while receiving ongoing follow-up from a clinician.

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Theme Issue: The Influence of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Rehabilitation

Emerging evidence suggests that worldwide, between 30% and 50% of those who are infected with COVID-19 experience long COVID (LC) symptoms. These symptoms create challenges with return-to-work (RTW) in a high proportion of individuals with LC. To tailor rehabilitation programs to LC sequelae and help improve RTW outcomes, more research on LC rehabilitation program outcomes is needed.

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Reviews on Innovation in Rehabilitation and Assistive Technologies

Real-time telerehabilitation (TR) is a new strategy for delivering rehabilitation interventions to older adults with musculoskeletal conditions, to provide continuity to conventional services and mitigate travel-related barriers.

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Technology in Physiotherapy

Balance rehabilitation programs represent the most common treatments for balance disorders. Nonetheless, lack of resources and lack of highly expert physiotherapists are barriers for patients to undergo individualized rehabilitation sessions. Therefore, balance rehabilitation programs are often transferred to the home environment, with a considerable risk of the patient misperforming the exercises or failing to follow the program at all. Holobalance is a persuasive coaching system with the capacity to offer full-scale rehabilitation services at home. Holobalance involves several modules, from rehabilitation program management to augmented reality coach presentation.

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