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Understanding stroke survivors' preferences regarding wearable sensor feedback on functional movement: a mixed-methods study.

BACKGROUND: In stroke rehabilitation, wearable technology can be used as an intervention modality by providing timely, meaningful feedback on motor performance. Stroke survivors' preferences may offer a unique perspective on what metrics are intuitive, actionable, and meaningful to change behavior. However, few studies have identified feedback preferences from stroke survivors. This project aims to determine the ease of understanding and movement encouragement of feedback based on wearable sensor data (both arm/hand use and mobility) for stroke survivors and to identify preferences for feedback metrics (mode, content, frequency, and timing).

METHODS: A sample of 30 chronic stroke survivors wore a multi-sensor system in the natural environment over a 1-week monitoring period. The sensor system captured time in active movement of each arm, arm use ratio, step counts and stance time symmetry. Using the data from the monitoring period, participants were presented with a movement report with visual displays of feedback about arm/hand use, step counts and gait symmetry. A survey and qualitative interview were used to assess ease of understanding, actionability and components of feedback that users found most meaningful to drive lasting behavior change.

RESULTS: Arm/hand use and mobility sensor-derived feedback metrics were easy to understand and actionable. The preferred metric to encourage arm/hand use was the hourly arm use bar plot, and similarly the preferred metric to encourage mobility was the hourly steps bar plot, which were each ranked as top choice by 40% of participants. Participants perceived that quantitative (i.e., step counts) and qualitative (i.e., stance time symmetry) mobility metrics provided complementary information. Three main themes emerged from the qualitative analysis: (1) Motivation for behavior change, (2) Real-time feedback based on individual goals, and (3) Value of experienced clinicians for prescription and accountability. Participants stressed the importance of having feedback tailored to their own personalized goals and receiving guidance from clinicians on strategies to progress and increase functional movement behavior in the unsupervised home and community setting.

CONCLUSION: The resulting technology has the potential to integrate engineering and personalized rehabilitation to maximize participation in meaningful life activities outside clinical settings in a less structured environment.

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