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Therapists' perceptions of social media and video game technologies in upper limb rehabilitation.

BACKGROUND: The application of technologies, such as video gaming and social media for rehabilitation, is garnering interest in the medical field. However, little research has examined clinicians' perspectives regarding technology adoption by their clients.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of our study was to explore therapists' perceptions of how young people and adults with hemiplegia use gaming and social media technologies in daily life and in rehabilitation, and to identify barriers to using these technologies in rehabilitation.

METHODS: We conducted two focus groups comprised of ten occupational therapists/physiotherapists who provide neurorehabilitation to individuals with hemiplegia secondary to stroke or cerebral palsy. Data was analyzed using inductive thematic analysis. The diffusion of innovations theory provided a framework to interpret emerging themes.

RESULTS: Therapists were using technology in a limited capacity. They identified barriers to using social media and gaming technology with their clients, including a lack of age appropriateness, privacy issues with social media, limited transfer of training, and a lack of accessibility of current systems. Therapists also questioned their role in the context of technology-based interventions. The opportunity for social interaction was perceived as a major benefit of integrated gaming and social media.

CONCLUSIONS: This study reveals the complexities associated with adopting new technologies in clinical practice, including the need to consider both client and clinician factors. Despite reporting several challenges with applying gaming and social media technology with clinical populations, therapists identified opportunities for increased social interactions and were willing to help shape the development of an upper limb training system that could more readily meet the needs of clients with hemiplegia. By considering the needs of both therapists and clients, technology developers may increase the likelihood that clinicians will adopt innovative technologies.

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