Open 2013: Best Practices for Assistive Technology Design Classes and Their Products


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  • 40k sqft lab space with 15k machining & fabrication facilities VA CoENSF ERCE&O mission
  • Purpose of creating impactful technologies for PWDs & spinning them out to market via SBIR programs and resultant companiesASPIRE & QoLT REU programs support ~25 students/summer
  • Expansion plans1. Expansion of curriculum, 2.funding to support development of materials, 3. visits to int’l partnrs
  • PWDs unemployment rate higher than able-bodied individualsDisabled veterans from the current conflict higher unemployment rate as wellAT can be the gateway to a person’s involvement in society Tech that does make it to the market is often inappropriate for certain conditoins (scooters)..a need for reimbursable, low-cost but effective technologies
  • All major (reputable)AT manufacturersHinted at throughout-this idea of multidisciplinary team
  • 2-3 rehabilitation engineering and assistive technology design courses annually for nearly 20 years, accumulating approximately 60 teams and projects and 300 students.
  • Repeated measures t-tests
  • Open 2013: Best Practices for Assistive Technology Design Classes and Their Products

    1. 1. Department ofDepartment Veterans Affairs of Veterans AffairsBest Practices for Team-BasedAssistive TechnologyDesign CoursesMary Goldberg, MEdEducation & Outreach CoordinatorJon Pearlman, PhDAssistant Professor, RST, SHRSDepartment of Rehabilitation Science and TechnologySchool of Health and Rehabilitation SciencesHuman Engineering Research Laboratories
    2. 2. Department of Veterans AffairsOutline• Background & Introduction• Literature review• Methods• Results• Best Practice Recommendations
    3. 3. Department of Veterans AffairsBackground: Departmental Structure • Rehabilitation Science & Technology • Human Engineering Research Laboratories • Veterans Affairs • QoLT • Education & Outreach Programs
    4. 4. Department of Veterans AffairsBackground: Product Development Training• TIPeD program funded by NCIIA• Augment ASPIRE & QoLT REU programs• Led to development of design ecosystem & course series
    5. 5. Department of Veterans AffairsBackground: Design Curricula Fall Spring Summer TIPeD-P: [facilitated in collaboration with TIPeD-C: Rehab the NSF REU TIPeD-C: Design Project program] and with Fundamentals of business and law Rehab Design and students Fabrication FabLab RET FabLab RET ELeVATE
    6. 6. Department of Veterans AffairsBackground: Motivation AT• Assistive technology & participation in society• Inappropriate designs• Design shortcomings• Improve independence and safety of users• 3rd party payers• Academic institutions & technology transfer
    7. 7. Department of Veterans AffairsBackground: Product Development• Design & fabrication facilities• Commercialized 5 products• 3 patents awarded; 9 pending• Research & user-driven innovations• Business partners• Multidisciplinary faculty, students, & staff
    8. 8. Department of Veterans AffairsGoals1. Literature Review2. Case Study on HRS 2706/2718 – Course Evaluation3. Generate Best Practice Recommendations
    9. 9. Department of Veterans AffairsLiterature Review: Themes• Projects• Process• Recommendations for Improving the Process
    10. 10. Department of Veterans AffairsLiterature Review: Projects• Range from low-tech to high-tech24, 26, 21• Low-tech often focus on international or low-cost products to broaden access• Primary (ADL) to secondary (IADL) to “for fun” (recreational) products1, 26• Client-based (individual & group)• Promote collaborations while benefitting local use3• Persons with disabilities as clients – Demonstrate inequities & lack of resources4 – Consider additional needs & universal design18
    11. 11. Department of Veterans AffairsLiterature Review: Process• Students uncomfortable with lack of instruction4• Products meeting users’ needs as correct solution• Profession-specific language1 – Process-oriented vs. solution-oriented – Engagement in process vs. didactic learning Ulrich & Eppinger, 2011
    12. 12. Department of Veterans AffairsLiterature ReviewProcess: Design with Service Provision in Mind23• Evaluation of client needs and skills for assistive technology• Acquisition of assistive technologies• Selection, design, repair, and fabrication of assistive technology systems• Coordination of services with other therapies• Training of both individuals with disabilities and those working with them to use the technology effectively
    13. 13. Department of Veterans AffairsCase Study of HRS 2706/2718• Pre/post survey – Mixed methods including 7 short answer & 2 Likert series related to design, rehabilitation, and career perceptions & skills• MBTI – Used to identify team roles• Mid-Point interviews with all students• Ethnographic observations by co-instructor in- person and online
    14. 14. Department of Veterans AffairsCourse Overview: Learning Objectives• Be able to – Execute needs assessment for a client; – Develop product concepts; – Convert product concepts and specifications into a prototype; – Perform concept refinement & selection to system & detail design (emphasizing participatory action design through all phases); – Develop a prototyping and testing plan; – Fabricate and test the prototype; – Interact with a client in a professional capacity as rehabilitation engineer – Investigate IP considerations and methods of technology transfer.
    15. 15. Department of Veterans Affairs Course Overview: Project• Assistive feeding device for a woman with a progressive disorder
    16. 16. Department of Veterans AffairsQuantitative Results (n=7)• Significant increase (p=0.03, M=.571, SD=.535) in students’ identification and comfort with his/her individual team role• Nearly significant increase pre/post class – In self-assessment on confidence in various skills (p=0.07, M=.258 , SD=.31) – In knowledge of commercially available assistive technology (p=0.07, M=.429, SD=.787) – In confidence in design skills (p=0.07, M=.429 , SD=.535)• Nearly significant Relationship between gender and scores (p=.07, M=.144, SD=.929)
    17. 17. Department of Veterans AffairsExample Qualitative Results• Before: “I think I am learning a lot of things, that will allow me to succeed in the field. Perhaps I will need to have more real world experience with clients, and also learn more technical things, (Electronics, Programing, design software) to feel more confident in applying technology to rehabilitation.”• After: “I feel I am part of the community. It gives me satisfaction that my designs could someday help a lot of individuals in ways that a consumer device rarely does. I am committed to the field and would like to see it grow further and increase the involvement of end users in the design process.”
    18. 18. Department of Veterans AffairsRecommendations: Lit review Recommendation Why? Helps train system integration, Use multidisciplinary teams increased responsibility, teamwork and competition Helps with commercialization and Add projects to database avoids repeated solutions Disseminate Training Modules Supports methods improvement Apply for funding and publish results Supports commercialization Share information related to tech- Ensures that all parties are aware of transfer and liability legal status of invention
    19. 19. Department of Veterans AffairsRecommendations: Class Recommendation Why? Allows for transparency and trust with Identify client through reliable clinical client, full understanding of their partner clinical needs Conveys expectations related to Allow for transparency between frequency of communication and instructors, client, and team(s) liability with products Use a process-oriented vs. solution- Ensures students execute due oriented product development model diligence and complete necessary steps Use a project management software to facilitate and archive communication Organize weekly objectives and outputs Facilitate client interaction frequently More communication results through in-person, phone, and online in better design communication
    20. 20. Department of Veterans AffairsRecommendations: Class Recommendation Why? Seek to develop professional role Provide opportunities that are not confidence to inspire students’ common in didactic curricula commitment to engineering/rehab Publish student designs on Motivates students and enables repositories creativity, disseminates design Integrate design competitions and Interests potential investors and commercialization plans into teaches students about deliverables commercialization Incorporate formal and informal Increases’ students confidence to education opportunities tackle design problems
    21. 21. Department of Veterans AffairsAcknowledgements & Questions• Financial support – University of Pittsburgh – Human Engineering Research Laboratories – NCIIA – NSF QOLT ERC• Our client• HRS 2706/2718 students