2013  •   Interdisciplinary Topics, Centers and Institutes

Promoting Computer Accessibility and Tele-Rehabilitation for the Physically Disabled

Lead Presenter: Jeffrey Breugelmans

Computers have come to play a significant part of the daily life of many students, workers, and older citizens. However, for the estimated 15% of people that experience some form of disability, the use of these devices may become severely limited or even impossible. This project focuses on the complications arising from physical disabilities such as arthritis (the leading cause for disability in the United States), which can significantly reduce an individualÍs ability to easily and effectively use conventional computer interfaces. æThe outcomes of this project share wide applicability and make significant contributions to the fields of biosensing, intelligent machine design, information processing, and rehabilitation science. Apart from the direct benefit of promoting computer accessibility, the designed interface can also be applied to physical therapy, engaging users much more naturally in their doctor prescribed exercises. ææGovernment statistics illustrate a rapid growth in the population of physically disabled, and there is a wide consensus that patients who are unable to comply with the rehabilitation exercise show poor clinical outcomes. Given the evolution of digital media in our aging society, the corresponding survival rates of persons with disabilities, and the evidence that illustrates the benefits of virtual immersion, it is paramount for engineers and medical professionals to work together on the treatment of these conditions and the care for its patients.