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This article is the author’s final published version in Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation, Volume 19, Issue 1, November 2022, Article number 128.

The published version is available at Copyright © Bell et al.


Background: Technology-aided rehabilitation is well established in the field of neurologic rehabilitation. Despite the widespread availability, the development of technology-based interventions that incorporate perspectives of the people who will use them is lacking.

Objectives: This qualitative study aims to understand how people with chronic motor incomplete cervical spinal cord injury view rehabilitation technology to improve upper extremity function and neuromuscular recovery to inform future intervention development.

Methods: Seven participants with chronic upper extremity impairment due to spinal cord injury/dysfunction trialed five rehabilitation technology devices. After a 30-45 min trial for each device, participants engaged in a semi-structured interview. Interviews were analyzed using a qualitative approach to explore the experience using and understand features that support motivation to use of rehabilitation technology.

Results: Qualitative analysis revealed three major themes: (1) devices must be flexible to meet diverse needs; (2) intervention protocols must be individualized to address unique needs and contexts of users; (3) intervention protocols should be developed and updated by a skilled clinician. These themes and subthemes were used to describe guiding principles to inform future intervention design.

Conclusion: The experiences of people with cervical spinal cord injury can be elicited as part of the intervention design process to systematically develop protocols for future feasibility trials. The findings from this study can be used to inform the development of technology-aided rehabilitation programs to improve upper extremity function in people with chronic motor incomplete tetraplegia.

Clinical trials registration number: NCT04000256.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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