Front Rehabil Sci. 2022 Dec 21;3:1021760. doi: 10.3389/fresc.2022.1021760. eCollection 2022.
BACKGROUND: Unilateral (Hemiplegic) cerebral palsy (UCP) causes weakness and stiffness affecting one sided of the body, often impacting activities of daily living. Upper limb therapy at effective intensity is not accessible to most.
AIM: To determine stakeholder views on design of an approach using wrist-worn devices and a smartphone application to encourage use of the affected upper limb for children with hemiplegia.
METHOD: Four participatory design workshops and one young people’s advisory group workshop incorporating views of five young people with hemiplegia, 13 typically developing peers aged 8-18 years, four parents, three occupational therapists, one teacher and two paediatricians. Two special educational needs co-ordinators were consulted separately. Peers were included to explore a study design whereby each child with hemiplegia would have a participating “buddy”. Topics included views on an acceptable wrist-worn device and smartphone application, participant age range, involvement of a buddy, and barriers to using the technology in a school setting. Ethical/welfare considerations included data security, and potential risks around providing smartphones to young children.
RESULTS: Children wanted a comfortable, conventional-appearing wristband incorporating a watch face and a secure, well-fitting strap. They were prepared to wear a band on each wrist. They wanted support with explaining the study to schoolteachers. Most schools restricted smartphone use during the school day: the study design accommodated this. Children agreed with a game as reward but had different views on an acceptable game; direct access to feedback data was preferred by some. Parents commented on the lack of access to upper limb therapy for children with UCP; therapists concurred. The proposed participant age range was widened based on feedback. Typically developing children were prepared to be buddies to help a friend with CP. Stakeholders were reassured by data security explanations and plans to provide internet safety information to participants.
CONCLUSION: The participatory design process informed plans for the proof-of-concept stage of the study, hopefully leading to an approach that will be fun, easy to integrate into everyday life, and have the capacity to increase use of the affected arm and hand.