Research Article: Identification of clinically related requirements of a novel assistive device for people with a high spinal cord injury

Date Published: June 28, 2019

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Amihai Gottlieb, Meir Plotnik, Racheli Kizony, Zoe Katsarou, Sevasti Bostantjopoulou, Gabi Zeilig, Mariella Pazzaglia.


People with spinal cord injuries (SCI), and particularly with high level lesions, can potentially lose the ability to effectively operate computers. The Multimedia Authoring and Management using your Eyes and Mind (MAMEM) project aims to design and produce a novel assistive device to support computer use by individuals with SCI and other disabilities. The solution harnesses eye tracking and brain waves, as measured by encephalography (EEG), to manipulate common computer functions. This paper describes the first step in the project, during which we defined clinically related requirements of the assistive device. These definitions were based on data from three sources: (1) a narrative review; (2) a focus group of SCI rehabilitation professionals; and (3) structured questionnaires administrated to potential computer users with SCI, addressing computer-use habits, barriers, and needs. We describe both the collection of data from each source and the clinically related requirements extracted. The novel three-source requirement assessment method is discussed, and the advantages and disadvantages of each data source are reported. In conclusion, we suggest that this approach makes it possible to organize, discuss, and prioritize the requirements, and to create a work program while planning the device. This increases our level of certainty that the efficacy and adequacy of the assistive device will be maximized, in terms of the clinical needs of users.

Partial Text

Loss of voluntary upper extremity control alongside preserved cognitive function is common in persons with high spinal cord injuries (SCI), and can result in difficulty operating computers [1, 2]. As computers play an important role in everyday life, and specifically in social participation, the ability to control them can have significant bearing on quality of life (QOL)[3]. In particular, affected individuals may find themselves marginalized and unable to stay maintain social ties.

We collected data from three sources: (1) a literature survey conducted in the format of a narrative review; (2) a focus group with various health professionals in the field of SCI rehabilitation; and (3) structured questionnaires administrated to potential computer users with SCI, addressing computer-use habits, barriers, and needs. Data from these three sources were used to extract clinically related requirements for the platform.




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