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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:; Copyright: Freepik; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Optimizing Telehealth Experience Design Through Usability Testing in Hispanic American and African American Patient Populations: Observational Study


    Background: Telehealth-delivered pulmonary rehabilitation (telePR) has been shown to be as effective as standard pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) at improving the quality of life in patients living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, it is not known how effective telePR may prove to be among low-income, urban Hispanic American and African American patient populations. To address this question, a collaborative team at Northwell Health developed a telePR intervention and assessed its efficacy among low-income Hispanic American and African American patient populations. The telePR intervention system components included an ergonomic recumbent bike, a tablet with a built-in camera, and wireless monitoring devices. Objective: The objective of the study was to assess patient adoption and diminish barriers to use by initiating a user-centered design approach, which included usability testing to refine the telePR intervention prior to enrolling patients with COPD into a larger telePR study. Methods: Usability testing was conducted in two phases to identify opportunities to streamline and improve the patient experience. The first phase included a prefield usability testing phase to evaluate technical, patient safety, and environmental factors comprising the system architecture. This was followed by an ergonomic evaluation of user interactions with the bicycle, telehealth tablets, and connected wearable devices to ensure optimal placement and practical support for all components of the intervention. The second phase of research included feasibility testing to observe and further optimize the system based on iterative rounds of telePR sessions. Results: During usability and feasibility research, we identified and addressed multiple opportunities for system improvements. These included physical and environmental changes, modifications to accommodate individual patient factors, safety improvements, and technology upgrades. Each enrolled patient was subsequently identified and classified into one of the following 3 categories: (1) independent, (2) intermediate, or (3) dependent. This categorization was used to predict the level of training and support needed for successful participation in the telePR sessions. Feasibility results revealed that patients in the dependent category were unable to perform the rehab sessions without in-person support due to low technical acumen and difficulty with certain features of the system, even after modifications had been made. Intermediate and independent users, however, did exhibit increased independent utilization of telePR due to iterative improvements. Conclusions: Usability testing helped reduce barriers to use for two subsets of our population, the intermediate and independent users. In addition, it identified a third subset, dependent users, for whom the telePR solution was deemed unsuitable without in-person support. The study established the need for the development of standard operating procedures, and guides were created for both patients and remote respiratory therapists to facilitate the appropriate use of the telePR system intervention. Observational research also led to the development of standard protocols for the first and all subsequent telePR sessions. The primary goals in developing standardization protocols were to establish trust, ensure a positive experience, and encourage future patient engagement with telePR sessions.

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

    Web-Based Health Coaching for Spinal Cord Injury: Results From a Mixed Methods Feasibility Evaluation


    Background: Individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) are at high risk of experiencing secondary conditions like pressure injuries. Self-management programs may reduce the risk of complications, but traditional programs have proven to be insufficiently tailored to the needs of people with SCI. To overcome barriers to self-management support, a web-based, self-management program was developed for Canadians with SCI called SCI & U. Objective: This study aims to evaluate the feasibility and potential impact of the SCI & U program in the context of a mixed methods pilot study. Methods: The study followed an explanatory, sequential mixed methods design. Participants (N=11) were Canadians with SCI who had been living in the community for more than 1 year. Each took part in a self-paced, six-session self-management program guided by a trained peer health coach. During sessions, participants could discuss a health topic with their coach from a predefined list (eg, skin or bowel management). Quantitative data were gathered before and after program participation to assess program feasibility and impact. Feasibility measures included attrition rates, frequency of topics selected, and recorded goals, whereas impact measures included measures of self-efficacy (University of Washington Self-Efficacy Scale [UW-SES]), mood (Personal Health Questionnaire Depression Scale [PHQ-8]), secondary conditions (Spinal Cord Injury Secondary Conditions Scale [SCI-SCS]), and resilience (Spinal Cord Injury Quality of Life Resilience Scale [SCI-QOL-R]). Qualitative measures were based on postintervention interviews; these were designed to confirm and expand on quantitative Results: Of the 11 participants, 10 completed pre- and postassessments, and 6 coaching sessions. Sessions lasted between 31 and 81 min (average 55, SD 13), and the duration of the program ranged from 35 to 88 days (average 56, SD 23). Diet and exercise were selected as topics 40% (20/50 sessions with topics) of the time, whereas topics such as mental health, bladder management, pain, and bowel management were chosen less frequently. Results gathered before and after the pilot study demonstrated improvements with moderate effect sizes on the UW-SES and the electronic health literacy scale (ie, Hedges g>0.5). Effect sizes for measures of resilience (SCI-QOL-R), depression (PHQ-8), and secondary conditions (SCI-SCS) were small (ie, Hedges g>0.3). Qualitative results confirmed a common focus on diet and exercise, and defined coaches as sources of accountability, information, reassurance and affirmation, and emotional and technical support. Conclusions: Results demonstrated that a web-based self-management program is feasible and acceptable by Canadians with SCI. Results also indicated a web-based, peer-led self-management program may impact resilience, self-efficacy, mood, and secondary complications. Finally, results illuminated the role of the coach in facilitating behavior change. Future work seeks to validate results in the context of a randomized controlled trial.

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

    Stroke and Telerehabilitation: A Brief Communication

    Authors List:


    This rapid communication highlights stroke telerehabilitation, a health care service that provides daily monitoring of the care of patients recovering from stroke, delivering convenient and immediate feedback for patients, family, and caregivers. The delivery, management, and coordination of nursing care services, provided via telecommunications technology, is a convenient method of delivering health care to patients recovering from stroke. It is important to assess the service quality of the telehealth process and to establish the role of telehealth nursing and related technologies in the care of patients recovering from stroke. Studies show that even though both health professionals and participants have reported high levels of satisfaction and acceptance of telerehabilitation interventions, the quality of the evidence on telerehabilitation in poststroke care remains low. Conducting a quality study of telehealth rehabilitation for patients recovering from stroke will help assess if home health agencies with telehealth capabilities caring for patients recovering from stroke and patients with chronic diseases can provide quality care to patients in their home and fill this health care gap. Patients that are severely handicapped and impaired and unable to reside in their home environment are not included in telerehabilitation services provided by the home care agency. It would be informative to study the benefits of telerehabilitation and the care provided to patients recovering from stroke within nursing homes, given the need for social distancing to reduce disease transmission during the current coronavirus disease (COVID-19) global health pandemic. Using telerehabilitation would mean that patients have a lower risk of exposure to infectious agents. Further research into telehealth interventions and stroke management in home care is crucial.

  • Source: Unsplash; Copyright: Eric Gonzalez; URL:; License: Licensed by the authors.

    Web-Based Consumer Health Education About Back Pain: Findings of Potential Tensions From a Photo-Elicitation and Observational Study


    Background: Low back pain (LBP) is a leading cause of disability worldwide, with huge social and economic impact. There is extensive extant literature investigating the efficacy of various management approaches ranging from surgery to psychological interventions to exercise. However, this work has focused almost entirely on efficacy in terms of pain reduction, functional improvement, and psychological changes. This focus has meant that unanticipated social or socio-cultural effects of back pain health care have received little attention. Objective: This study aimed to scrutinize some of the conceptual tensions inherent in contemporary LBP health care approaches and to highlight their material effects. Methods: We used a qualitative research design adapted from discourse analysis, which was able to consider key discursive tensions underpinning a LBP website. Data collection involved observing the interaction between adult participants with LBP and the website in the following two ways: (1) observational interview, where participants were observed interacting with the website for the first time and asked to discuss their responses to it as they moved through the website and (2) photo-elicitation, where for a month after their first use of the website, people took photographs of what was happening in their lives when they thought of the website and discussed them in a follow-up interview. We used a postcritical discourse analysis approach to examine data produced from these methods. Results: Our postcritical discourse analysis identified key discursive tensions, including between living with and reducing LBP, keeping active and resting, and patient choice and giving guidance. Conclusions: Our analysis suggests ways for considering less dominant perspectives without having to discard the benefits of dominant ones. Although the focus of LBP discourses has changed (less biomedical and less about cure), they still hold on to some of the problematic dominant paradigmatic concepts such as biomedicine and individualism. The tensions we highlight are likely to be highly useful for teaching and implementing LBP care across multiple health care settings. Trial Registration:

  • CI patient training with the Train2hear program. Source: Image created by the Authors; Copyright: The Authors; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Therapist-Guided Telerehabilitation for Adult Cochlear Implant Users: Developmental and Feasibility Study


    Background: Cochlear implants can provide auditory perception to many people with hearing impairment who derive insufficient benefits from hearing aid use. For optimal speech perception with a cochlear implant, postoperative auditory training is necessary to adapt the brain to the new sound transmitted by the implant. Currently, this training is usually conducted via face-to-face sessions in rehabilitation centers. With the aging of society, the prevalence of age-related hearing loss and the number of adults with cochlear implants are expected to increase. Therefore, augmenting face-to-face rehabilitation with alternative forms of auditory training may be highly valuable. Objective: The purpose of this multidisciplinary study was to evaluate the newly developed internet-based teletherapeutic multimodal system Train2hear, which enables adult cochlear implant users to perform well-structured and therapist-guided hearing rehabilitation sessions on their own. Methods: The study was conducted in 3 phases: (1) we searched databases from January 2005 to October 2018 for auditory training programs suitable for adult cochlear implant users; (2) we developed a prototype of Train2hear based on speech and language development theories; (3) 18 cochlear implant users (mean age 61, SD 15.4 years) and 10 speech and language therapists (mean age 34, SD 10.9 years) assessed the usability and the feasibility of the prototype. This was achieved via questionnaires, including the System Usability Scale (SUS) and a short version of the intrinsic motivation inventory (KIM) questionnaires. Results: The key components of the Train2hear training program are an initial analysis according to the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health; a range of different hierarchically based exercises; and an automatic and dynamic adaptation of the different tasks according to the cochlear implant user’s progress. In addition to motivational mechanisms (such as supportive feedback), the cochlear implant user and therapist receive feedback in the form of comprehensive statistical analysis. In general, cochlear implant users enjoyed their training as assessed by KIM scores (mean 19, SD 2.9, maximum 21). In terms of usability (scale 0-100), the majority of users rated the Train2hear program as excellent (mean 88, SD 10.5). Age (P=.007) and sex (P=.01) had a significant impact on the SUS score with regard to usability of the program. The therapists (SUS score mean 93, SD 9.2) provided slightly more positive feedback than the cochlear implant users (mean 85, SD 10.3). Conclusions: Based on this first evaluation, Train2hear was well accepted by both cochlear implant users and therapists. Computer-based auditory training might be a promising cost-effective option that can provide a highly personalized rehabilitation program suited to individual cochlear implant user characteristics.

  • Source: Image created by the authors; Copyright: The Authors / Placeit; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Effectiveness of a Home-Based Rehabilitation Program After Total Hip Arthroplasty Driven by a Tablet App and Remote Coaching: Nonrandomized Controlled Trial...


    Background: Recent technological developments such as wearable sensors and tablets with a mobile internet connection hold promise for providing electronic health home-based programs with remote coaching for patients following total hip arthroplasty. It can be hypothesized that such a home-based rehabilitation program can offer an effective alternative to usual care. Objective: The aim of this study was to determine the effectiveness of a home-based rehabilitation program driven by a tablet app and remote coaching for patients following total hip arthroplasty. Methods: Existing data of two studies were combined, in which patients of a single-arm intervention study were matched with historical controls of an observational study. Patients aged 18-65 years who had undergone total hip arthroplasty as a treatment for primary or secondary osteoarthritis were included. The intervention consisted of a 12-week home-based rehabilitation program with video instructions on a tablet and remote coaching (intervention group). Patients were asked to do strengthening and walking exercises at least 5 days a week. Data of the intervention group were compared with those of patients who received usual care (control group). Effectiveness was measured at four moments (preoperatively, and 4 weeks, 12 weeks, and 6 months postoperatively) by means of functional tests (Timed Up & Go test and the Five Times Sit-to Stand Test) and self-reported questionnaires (Hip disability and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score [HOOS] and Short Form 36 [SF-36]). Each patient of the intervention group was matched with two patients of the control group. Patient characteristics were summarized with descriptive statistics. The 1:2 matching situation was analyzed with a conditional logistic regression. Effect sizes were calculated by Cohen d. Results: Overall, 15 patients of the intervention group were included in this study, and 15 and 12 subjects from the control group were matched to the intervention group, respectively. The intervention group performed functional tests significantly faster at 12 weeks and 6 months postoperatively. The intervention group also scored significantly higher on the subscales “function in sport and recreational activities” and “hip-related quality of life” of HOOS, and on the subscale “physical role limitations” of SF-36 at 12 weeks and 6 months postoperatively. Large effect sizes were found on functional tests at 12 weeks and at 6 months (Cohen d=0.5-1.2), endorsed by effect sizes on the self-reported outcomes. Conclusions: Our results clearly demonstrate larger effects in the intervention group compared to the historical controls. These results imply that a home-based rehabilitation program delivered by means of internet technology after total hip arthroplasty can be more effective than usual care. Trial Registration: NCT03846063; and German Registry of Clinical Trials DRKS00011345;

  • 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.

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