A novel smart somatosensory wearable assistive device for older adults’ home rehabilitation during the COVID-19 pandemic

Chien Hsiang Chang, Wei-Chih Lien, Tseng Ping Chiu, Tai-Hua Yang, Chun Chun Wei, Yu-Liang Kuo, Chung Hsing Yeh, Bo Liu, Pin Jun Chen, Yang-Cheng Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Due to the Coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) related social distancing measures and health service suspension, physical activity has declined, leading to increased falling risk and disability, and consequently, compromising the older adult health. How to improve the quality of older adult life has become a crucial social issue. Objective: In traditional rehabilitation, manual and repetitive muscle training cannot identify the patient’s rehabilitation effect, and increasing the willingness to use it is not easy. Therefore, based on the usability perspective, this study aims to develop a novel smart somatosensory wearable assistive device (called SSWAD) combined with wireless surface electromyography (sEMG) and exergame software and hardware technology. The older adult can do knee extension, ankle dorsiflexion, and ankle plantar flexion rehabilitation exercises at home. Meanwhile, sEMG values can be digitally recorded to assist physicians (or professionals) in judgment, treatment, or diagnosis. Methods: To explore whether the novel SSWAD could improve the older adult willingness to use and motivation for home rehabilitation, 25 frail older adult (12 males and 13 females with an average age of 69.3) perform the rehabilitation program with the SSWAD, followed by completing the system usability scale (SUS) questionnaire and the semi-structured interview for the quantitative and qualitative analyses. In addition, we further investigate whether the factor of gender or prior rehabilitation experience would affect the home rehabilitation willingness or not. Results: According to the overall SUS score, the novel SSWAD has good overall usability performance (77.70), meaning that the SSWAD makes older adult feel interested and improves their willingness for continuous rehabilitation at home. In addition, the individual item scores of SUS are shown that female older adult with prior rehabilitation experience perform better in “Learnability” (t = 2.35, p = 0.03) and “Confidence” (t = −3.24, p = 0.01). On the contrary, male older adult without rehabilitation experience are more willing to adopt new technologies (t = −2.73, p = 0.02), and perform better in “Learnability” (t = 2.18, p = 0.04) and “Confidence” (t = −3.75, p < 0.001) with the SSWAD. In addition, the result of the semi-structured interview shows that the operation of the SSWAD is highly flexible, thus reducing older adult burden during the rehabilitation exercise and using them long-term. Conclusion: This novel SSWAD receives consistently positive feedback regardless of the gender or prior rehabilitation experience of elders. The SSWAD could be used as a novel way of home rehabilitation for elders, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Older adult can do rehabilitation exercises at home, and physicians could make proper judgments or adjust suitable treatments online according to the sEMG data, which older adult can know their rehabilitation progress at the same time. Most importantly, older adult do not have to go to the hospital every time for rehabilitation, which significantly reduces time and the risk of infection.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1026662
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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