Abstract

Importance: Powered wheelchairs provide independence for people with mobility impairments; however, current training practices may not meet the needs of those with cognitive impairments. Shared-control teleoperation may have utility in a clinical setting when developing training suited to this population.

Objective: To explore the clinical utility of a shared-control teleoperation device for powered wheelchair assessment and training.

Design: In this qualitative study, we used two sequential semistructured interviews conducted a minimum of 2 wk apart. Thematic analyses were used with member checking, reflexive journaling, and triangulation of researchers to establish trustworthiness of the data.

Setting: Rehabilitation center and residential care and community settings.

Participants: Using purposive sampling, we recruited occupational therapists and physical therapists who were mostly female and who had a range of practice experience.

Results: Fifteen participants were interviewed, and two primary themes were identified: (1) “A big enabler” described how shared control provides opportunities to train people who may otherwise be denied powered mobility, and (2) “changing the learner experience” described how shared control may promote success in skill development through an alternative learning experience.

Conclusions and Relevance: Shared-control technology may have the potential to broaden the scope of therapeutic intervention by reducing risk to the driver and others in the environment and by facilitating alternative training approaches.

What This Article Adds: Technological advances that allow more control over a powered wheelchair by a clinician, known as shared control, may provide learning opportunities for people who are otherwise denied access to powered mobility. Shared control may also allow the use of new instructional techniques, increase safety in the training process, and reduce anxiety associated with learning.

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