Am J Occup Ther. 2021 Nov 1;75(6):7506205080. doi: 10.5014/ajot.2021.046110.
IMPORTANCE: The effectiveness of robotic therapy in stroke rehabilitation has been established by many studies, and occupational therapists should consider using robotics in their clinical practice. However, little is known about occupational therapy practitioners’ experience using robotics.
OBJECTIVE: To explore occupational therapists’ perceptions of the mechanisms and outcomes of occupational therapy using robotics with chronic stroke patients.
DESIGN: Qualitative study with semistructured focus group interviews. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis.
SETTING: Hospitals and institutions in Japan in which occupational therapists used robotics in their clinical practice.
PARTICIPANTS: Twenty-seven occupational therapists with experience in using robotics with chronic stroke patients as a self-training method that involved repetitive movements of a paralyzed upper extremity. Participants were interviewed in nine focus groups.
RESULTS: Five themes-(1) body function, (2) values, (3) performance skills, (4) occupational performance, and (5) participation-and 12 subthemes were identified on the basis of the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework: Domain and Process (3rd ed.). Participants indicated that robotics improved patients’ body function and promoted a desire for independence, which resulted in improved occupational performance and participation in their desired occupations.
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Occupational therapists regarded robotics as an adjunct to other therapy, which improved patients’ body function and promoted their desire for independence. What This Article Adds: Findings from this research provide insights into using robotics to enhance occupational therapy practice.
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