R3 TeleWellness Technologies

Principal Investigator: Tracy. L. Mitzner, Ph.D.
Project Team: Jenay M. Beer, Ph.D.; Wendy A. Rogers, Ph.D.
Project Collaborator: Courtney Hall, P.T., Ph.D.

Specific Aims
Age-related functional declines and secondary conditions can result in mobility and participation restrictions that can put individuals aging with disability at risk for further loss of functional capacity and social isolation. The purpose of this project is to understand the requirements of robotics interventions to compensate for loss of maintaining activity and social interaction among older adults with disabilities.

In collaboration with DTI Robotics, specific aims of this project are to:

  1. understand the barriers and facilitators to telerobot acceptance for older adults with disabilities and age-related declines;
  2. assess the usability of a telerobot, and determine the characteristics necessary to enable older adults with hearing loss and age-related mobility limitations to control a telerobot; and
  3. determine the effectiveness of telerobotic exercise interventions for enhancing exercise outcomes and social connectedness.

The project will produce evidence to support the use of telerobots for interactive exercise interventions as well as recommendations for the design of telerobotic technologies.

Research Questions & Hypotheses
Telerobots provide a new method to promote exercise using an approach that can deliver a theoretically-based intervention, including reinforcing feedback on technique, self-monitoring, health education, and modeling, in an automated manner. However, questions remain as to the feasibility of a telerobot to enhance exercise for the target population, including:

  • the barriers and facilitators of acceptance (RQ1)?;
  • design characteristics that impact usability (RQ2)?
  • effectiveness for improving exercise outcomes (e.g., frequency, self-efficacy) and social connectedness (RQ3)?.

Whereas RQ1 and RQ2 are exploratory, RQ3 supports 2 hypotheses:
H1. Individuals who participate in a telerobot exercise intervention that provides reinforcing feedback and contextual support will exercise more often (as measured by fewer missed sessions), have better performance (as measured by exercise accuracy), have higher levels of satisfaction with the intervention, greater self-efficacy (as measured by perceived competence to perform exercise), and perceive greater benefits (as measured by perceived usefulness), compared to individuals who participate in a standard remote video instruction intervention.

H2. Individuals who participate from a remote location (i.e., their home) in a group telerobotic intervention where they can interact with the robot and each other will exercise more often, have higher levels of satisfaction with the intervention, perceive greater benefits, and greater social connectedness (as measured by the Social Connectedness Scale), compared to individuals who participate in a telerobotic exercise intervention with only a remote instructor.