The Voice of the Consumer: A Survey of Veterans and Other Users of Assistive Technology.
Introduction: A total of 3.6 million Americans and over 250,000 veterans use wheelchairs. The need for advancements in mobility-assistive technologies is continually growing due to advances in medicine and rehabilitation that preserve and prolong the lives of people with disabilities, increases in the senior population, and increases in the number of veterans and civilians involved in conflict situations. The purpose of this study is to survey a large sample of veterans and other consumers with disabilities who use mobility-assistive technologies to identify priorities for future research and development. Materials and Methods: This survey asked participants to provide opinions on the importance of developing various mobility-assistive technologies and to rank the importance of certain technologies. Participants were also asked to provide open-ended comments and suggestions. Results: A total of 1,022 individuals, including 500 veterans, from 49 states within the USA and Puerto Rico completed the survey. The average age of respondents was 54.3 yr, and they represented both new and experienced users of mobility-assistive technologies. The largest diagnostic group was spinal cord injury (SCI) (N = 491, 48.0%). Several themes on critical areas of research emerged from the open-ended questions, which generated a total of 1,199 comments. Conclusion: This survey revealed several themes for future research and development. Advanced wheelchair design, smart device applications, human-machine interfaces, and assistive robotics and intelligent systems emerged as priorities. Survey results also demonstrated the importance for researchers to understand the effects of policy and cost on translational research and to be involved in educating both consumers and providers.
Dicianno, BE; Joseph, J; Eckstein, S; Zigler, CK; Quinby, E; Schmeler, MR; Schein, RM; Pearlman, J; Cooper, RA
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