The pioneers project: validation of passive arm exoskeletons in real life situations

    Principal Author: Palien Klap

    Assistive technology development is thriving. Yet current adoption rates of assistive technologies are rather low and therefore they miss their primary goal; positive impact on people’s lives. The impact of these new technologies is influenced by many different aspects. Some of the most important aspects being integrability in family life, stigma, functional improvements versus input effort and the deal of autonomy improvement.

    It is (close to) impossible to research these aspects with a partially functioning prototype in a lab situation. It can only be explored in co-creation with users in this case children witch DMD, their families, caretakers and health care professionals in the real-life situation.

    The pioneers project, initiated by Duchenne Parent Project NL and Yumen Bionics, validates the impact of a passive exoskeleton. The passive exo designed especially for children with DMD is tested by five pioneers over a period of nine months. During this period multiple structured interviews, journaling, focus groups, observation and questionnaires are used to validate the impact. By using this mix of methods the following questions can be answered: When is the exo used and what is the impact? How do people like the looks of the exo? How is the exo integrated in daily life? What do people want to use the exo for? How can the impact be improved by design?

    All the findings are used to improve the technology, setting up a service-system and most importantly realize the availability of a favorable solution for loss of arm function in daily life.

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