Baltimore, MD, USA
Improving the Health of Stroke Survivors through a Mobile App for Everyday Rehabilitation
Each year in the United States, nearly 800,000 people have a stroke, according to Centers for Disease and Prevention estimates. Regular rehabilitation exercises are critical for recovery, but many stroke survivors do not adhere to these repetitive regimens. Video game systems show promise as a way to increase engagement, but seniors – who often are stroke victims – may have trouble using these systems. Seniors are more apt to use mobile phones, but have not had access to an app that might act as a stroke rehabilitation tool.
To address this gap, the Towson University Foundation has created a mobile app for stroke survivors. The app’s simple, engaging games are actually exercises for flexibility, coordination and strengthening. Images and videos help describe each exercise. Doctors can customize therapy by selecting exercises and changing settings. Exercise data are logged and sent to caregivers who monitor the patient's progress. Overall, the app’s data and communication features aim to improve care coordination and inform decisions by linking stroke survivors, therapists, physicians and caregivers.
With Aetna Foundation support, Towson is collaborating with the University of Maryland Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute to test the new app in the stroke survivor community. They will initially include 50 participants in Baltimore, a city with a highly diverse population. The new study will determine how motivated and engaged the app’s users are, and measure improvements in motion, strength and coordination. Study leaders also will interview app users and analyze usage patterns and communication features.
Towson will report its findings in scientific health journals and through appearances at medical conferences. The researchers envision posting the app online so its use can spread to rehabilitation programs across other geographical areas. This effort holds promise for improving health, increasing care coordination, and reducing costs for stroke survivors, particularly in underserved communities.