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A System in the Wild: Deploying a Two Player Arm Rehabilitation System for Children With Cerebral Palsy in a School Environment

Raymond Holt, Andrew Weightman, Justin Gallagher, Nick Preston, Martin Levesley, Mark Mon-Williams, and Bipinchandra Bhakta

Journal of Usability Studies, Volume 8, Issue 4, August 2013, pp. 111 - 126

Abstract

This paper outlines a system for arm rehabilitation for children with upper-limb hemiplegia resulting from cerebral palsy. Our research team designed a two-player, interactive (competitive or collaborative) computer play therapy system that provided powered assistance to children while they played specially designed games that promoted arm exercises. We designed the system for a school environment. To assess the feasibility of deploying the system in a school environment, the research team enlisted the help of teachers and staff in nine schools. Once the system was set up, it was used to deliver therapy without supervision from the research team. Ultimately, the system was found to be suitable for use in schools. However, the overriding need for schools to focus on academic activities meant that children could not use the system enough to achieve the amount of use desired for therapeutic benefit. In this paper, we identify the key challenges encountered during this study. For example, there was a marked reluctance to report system issues (which could have been fixed) that prevented children from using the system. We also discuss future implications of deploying similar studies with this type of system.

Tips for Usability Practitioners

Schools present a challenging environment for doing research, particularly where the system must be left unattended. We recommend that any usability practitioners intending to carry out a similar field study should consider the following:

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A System in the Wild: Deploying a Two Player Arm Rehabilitation System for Children With Cerebral Palsy in a School Environment