Development and evaluation of a haptic framework supporting telerehabilitation robotics and group interaction

Le, Hoang Ha (2022) Development and evaluation of a haptic framework supporting telerehabilitation robotics and group interaction. PhD thesis, Middlesex University. [Thesis]

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Telerehabilitation robotics has grown remarkably in the past few years. It can provide intensive training to people with special needs remotely while facilitating therapists to observe the whole process. Telerehabilitation robotics is a promising solution supporting routine care which can help to transform face-to-face and one-on-one treatment sessions that require not only intensive human resource but are also restricted to some specialised care centres to treatments that are technology-based (less human involvement) and easy to access remotely from anywhere. However, there are some limitations such as network latency, jitter, and delay of the internet that can affect negatively user experience and quality of the treatment session. Moreover, the lack of social interaction since all treatments are performed over the internet can reduce motivation of the patients. As a result, these limitations are making it very difficult to deliver an efficient recovery plan.

This thesis developed and evaluated a new framework designed to facilitate telerehabilitation robotics. The framework integrates multiple cutting-edge technologies to generate playful activities that involve group interaction with binaural audio, visual, and haptic feedback with robot interaction in a variety of environments.

The research questions asked were:

1) Can activity mediated by technology motivate and influence the behaviour of users, so that they engage in the activity and sustain a good level of motivation?

2) Will working as a group enhance users’ motivation and interaction?

3) Can we transfer real life activity involving group interaction to virtual domain and deliver it reliably via the internet?

There were three goals in this work: first was to compare people’s behaviours and motivations while doing the task in a group and on their own; second was to determine whether group interaction in virtual and reala environments was different from each other in terms of performance, engagement and strategy to complete the task; finally was to test out the effectiveness of the framework based on the benchmarks generated from socially assistive robotics literature. Three studies have been conducted to achieve the first goal, two with healthy participants and one with seven autistic children. The first study observed how people react in a challenging group task while the other two studies compared group and individual interactions. The results obtained from these studies showed that the group interactions were more enjoyable than individual interactions and most likely had more positive effects in terms of user behaviours. This suggests that the group interaction approach has the potential to motivate individuals to make more movements and be more active and could be applied in the future for more serious therapy. Another study has been conducted to measure group interaction’s performance in virtual and real environments and pointed out which aspect influences users’ strategy for dealing with the task. The results from this study helped to form a better understanding to predict a user’s behaviour in a collaborative task. A simulation has been run to compare the results generated from the predictor and the real data. It has shown that, with an appropriate training method, the predictor can perform very well.

This thesis has demonstrated the feasibility of group interaction via the internet using robotic technology which could be beneficial for people who require social interaction (e.g. stroke patients and autistic children) in their treatments without regular visits to the clinical centres.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Sustainable Development Goals:
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology
B. > Theses
Item ID: 36829
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 23 Nov 2022 11:57
Last Modified: 23 Nov 2022 14:57

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