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A Mixed Reality Cognitive Orthosis to Support Older Adults in Achieving Their Daily Living Activities: Focus Group Study With Clinical Experts

Abstract

Background

Mixed reality is an emerging technology that allows us to blend virtual objects into the actual user’s environment. This can be realized using head-mounted displays. Many recent studies have suggested the possibility of using this technology to support cognition in people with neurodegenerative disorders (NDs). However, most studies have explored improvements in cognition rather than in independence and safety during the accomplishment of daily living activities. Therefore, it is crucial to document the possibility of using mixed reality to support the independence of older adults in their daily lives.

Objective

This study is part of a larger user-centered study of a cognitive orthosis using pure mixed reality to support the independence of people living with NDs. This study aimed to explore (the difficulties encountered by older adults with NDs in their daily life to ensure that pure mixed reality meets their needs, (the most effective interventions with this population to determine what types of assistance should be provided by pure mixed reality technology, how the pure mixed reality technology should provide assistance to promote aging in place, and the main facilitators of and barriers to the use of this technology.

Methods

We conducted a descriptive, qualitative study. A total of 5 focus groups were completed with occupational therapists who had expertise in the disease and its functional impacts (N=29) to gather information. Each focus group met once for a 1-hour period. All sessions were held over a 3-month period. A semistructured interview guide was used. All group interviews were audiotaped with the consent of each participant to facilitate the data analysis. We conducted inductive qualitative analysis in four stages using a thematic analysis approach: full transcription of the audio recordings, first-order coding of the transcribed data, second-order coding from the first-order code list, and data reduction and matrix development.

Results

The results suggested that the main difficulties encountered by this population were in remembering to complete tasks, initiating the tasks, and planning the tasks. Several interventions are used to improve the independence of this population, such as prevention, simplification or facilitation, adaptation, and compensation. The use of pure mixed reality in older adults with NDs to promote independence and safety at home is promising and may respond to several clinical functions identified by the participants. Finally, pure mixed reality has good potential for use in this population and involves certain facilitators and obstacles, such as resources, technical aspects, and social considerations.

Conclusions

The cognitive orthosis that will be developed in light of this study will act as a proof of concept for the possibility of supporting people with NDs using pure mixed reality.

Citation

Yaddaden A, Spalla G, Gouin-Vallerand C, Briskie-Semeniuk P, Bier N A Mixed Reality Cognitive Orthosis to Support Older Adults in Achieving Their Daily Living Activities: Focus Group Study With Clinical Experts JMIR Rehabil Assist Technol 2022;9(3):e34983

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