Assisting Stroke Survivors with Engineering Technology – ASSET
Stroke survivors are often left with persistent sensorimotor impairments which hinder everyday life. Though assistive devices may help, adoption of these devices is limited. NC State's ASSET center aims to promote the employment of assistive technology by stroke survivors, addressing the key issues of functionality, usability and self-image. Functionality relates to how the device enables the user to perform tasks, usability to the physical and cognitive interaction between the user and device, and self-image to how the device affects the user's sense of self. ASSET will strive to create devices that are easy to use, comfortable to wear, and don't negatively affect the user's sense of self, in order to improve survivors' functional abilities and social participation.
National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR)
The grant—running from September 1, 2022 to August 31, 2027—is for a total of $4,625,000.
Derek Gary Kamper
Jonathan W Stallings
Despite extensive clinical and research efforts, persistent sensorimotor impairments are the norm following stroke, contributing to deficits in functional mobility and manipulation. Attempts to further recovery, such as through the introduction of pharmaceutical agents or therapeutic technology, have led to at most modest gains. The presence of chronic residual deficits often dramatically impacts social interactions, economic opportunities, and self-care. With recent technological advances, the potential for assistive devices to mitigate the effects of these deficits has grown considerably. Yet, use of assistive devices to address functional loss is currently quite limited, beyond the canes and orthoses that have been utilized for decades. Stroke rehabilitation efforts continue to focus on therapy rather than assistance, partially driven by a history of poor adoption of technology. Successful adoption of assistive devices requires that the devices address key issues, notably: 1) functionality, 2) usability, and 3) self-image. Functionality encompasses the tasks that the assistive device enables the user to perform. To be beneficial, these tasks must be of importance to the user on a regular basis. Usability spans from the physical and cognitive interaction between the user and assistive device to the mapping of human intent to device response. Designing assistive devices that are easy to don/doff, comfortable to wear, and intuitive and safe to use is essential. Finally, self-image while wearing the device is critical. Despite high functionality and easy usability, devices are often abandoned (e.g., eyeglasses, hearing aids, canes) if they negatively affect the sense of self. While the relative weighting of these factors in determining device acceptance is specific to each user, typically all three have import. The proposed center, Assisting Stroke Survivors with Engineering Technology (ASSET), will explicitly address functionality, usability, and self-image with the goal of promoting the employment of assistive technology by stroke survivors to enhance functional activities and participation.