How therapists use visualizations of upper limb movement information from stroke patients: A qualitative study with simulated information

Ploderer, Bernd, Fong, Justin, Klaic, Marlena, Nair, Siddharth, Vetere, Frank, Cofré Lizama, L. Eduardo, & Galea, Mary Pauline (2016) How therapists use visualizations of upper limb movement information from stroke patients: A qualitative study with simulated information. JMIR Rehabilitation and Assistive Technologies, 3(2), Article Number-e9.

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  • Stroke is a leading cause of disability worldwide, with upper limb deficits affecting an estimated 30% to 60% of survivors. The effectiveness of upper limb rehabilitation relies on numerous factors, particularly patient compliance to home programs and exercises set by therapists. However, therapists lack objective information about their patients’ adherence to rehabilitation exercises as well as other uses of the affected arm and hand in everyday life outside the clinic. We developed a system that consists of wearable sensor technology to monitor a patient’s arm movement and a Web-based dashboard to visualize this information for therapists.


  • The aim of our study was to evaluate how therapists use upper limb movement information visualized on a dashboard to support the rehabilitation process.


  • An interactive dashboard prototype with simulated movement information was created and evaluated through a user-centered design process with therapists (N=8) at a rehabilitation clinic. Data were collected through observations of therapists interacting with an interactive dashboard prototype, think-aloud data, and interviews. Data were analyzed qualitatively through thematic analysis.


  • Therapists use visualizations of upper limb information in the following ways:

    (1) to obtain objective data of patients’ activity levels, exercise, and neglect outside the clinic,

    (2) to engage patients in the rehabilitation process through education, motivation, and discussion of experiences with activities of daily living, and;

    (3) to engage with other clinicians and researchers based on objective data.

  • A major limitation is the lack of contextual data, which is needed by therapists to discern how movement data visualized on the dashboard relate to activities of daily living.


  • Upper limb information captured through wearable devices provides novel insights for therapists and helps to engage patients and other clinicians in therapy. Consideration needs to be given to the collection and visualization of contextual information to provide meaningful insights into patient engagement in activities of daily living. These findings open the door for further work to develop a fully functioning system and to trial it with patients and clinicians during therapy.

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ID Code: 99735
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: human-computer interaction, stroke, upper-limb rehabilitation, information visualization, wearable technology
DOI: 10.2196/rehab.6182
ISSN: 2369-2529
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > INFORMATION AND COMPUTING SCIENCES (080000) > INFORMATION SYSTEMS (080600) > Computer-Human Interaction (080602)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > HUMAN MOVEMENT AND SPORTS SCIENCE (110600) > Human Movement and Sports Science not elsewhere classified (110699)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: 2016 Bernd Ploderer, Justin Fong, Marlena Klaic, Siddharth Nair, Frank Vetere, L. Eduardo Cofré Lizama, Mary Pauline Galea.
Copyright Statement:

Originally published in JMIR Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology (, 05.10.2016.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

Deposited On: 06 Oct 2016 03:31
Last Modified: 08 Oct 2016 22:31

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