Rehabilitation and Technology Group: Technology That Enhances Participation
The rehabilitation and technology group at the Occupational Science Summit in St. Louis featured 12 research paper presentations and 5 poster sessions. The presenting researchers studied a wide range of topics such as technology that can prevent falls, ergonomic keyboards, virtual reality therapy in the home, and much more.
“The research in my group was mostly looking at the state of the art technology,” says Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar, PhD, chair of the rehabilitation and technology group. “The research looked at new technology devices and how can we conduct research with those devices that will enhance participation and occupation for people with disabilities and people with chronic health conditions.”
A study presented by Jack Engsberg, PhD, examined the effectiveness of virtual reality games in improving outcomes for individuals who have had a stroke. The virtual reality games were created by an occupational therapist and were personalized for each participant based on his or her goals, interests, and abilities. The participants experienced improvement in their upper arm strength and movement in the affected arm, which also helped improve their functional activities.
“The common themes of the group were innovation and how the new state of the art technology will be used,” says Suarez-Balcazar.
The rehabilitation and technology group also discussed how they can be better prepared for health care reform and be at the table for health care reform discussions. This included examining the types of research the group should conduct that will affect heath care and health disparities and the need for more interdisciplinary research.
“We need to collaborate more and do more research with others who are also using technology to promote occupation,” says Suarez-Balcazar.
Read more about the Occupational Science Summit and find summaries of the research presented in other groups here