Rectech Newsletter

R3: A Community Mapping Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Framework for Promoting Physical Activity in Youths with Disabilities

Youths with disabilities experience poorer health and have less access to community- based health promotion activities than the general population. Currently, there are no customized health promotion delivery systems in physical activity for family members who have a child with disability. The challenge is finding cost-efficient, technology-driven innovative solutions that can assist family members in overcoming such barriers as lack of knowledge on how to get their child more physically active, limited access to the built and social environment, and limited or no access to qualified health professionals who understand how to tailor appropriate physical activities for children with disabilities.

The specific aims of the proposed study are: 1) to develop a web-based intelligent individualized Information and Communication Technology (ICT) system designed to promote physical activity specifically in youths with disabilities, referred to as the Personalized Online Weight and Exercise Response System (POWERS); and 2) to conduct a feasibility and efficacy study testing the utility of POWERS in 60 children with a mobility disability.

Phase 1: Usability Testing

Two usability tests will be conducted in Phase I.  The first is design- oriented and will work out the design issues before significant development efforts take place. The second is metric-oriented and will be conducted after the majority of development work is completed to formally evaluate the system’s usability through focus groups/interviews using the System Usability Scale. Twelve subjects (4 professionals, 4 parents, 4 kids) each will go through a 60-minute one-on-one session with project staff.

Phase 2: Feasibility and Efficacy

In an 18-week randomized controlled trial of sixty youths with physical disabilities, two Lakeshore Foundation staff will serve as POWERS’ telehealth coaches. After each participant receiving the intervention completes a health appraisal profile (HAP) using POWERS, coaches will meet with each child and parent via GoToMeeting to review the results of HAP and the child’s physical activity and nutrition wellness plan. Objectives and strategies will be finalized with the parent and child that are consistent with the participant’s abilities, interests and availability of community resources. Suggested community-based activities will be tailored to the specific needs and interests of each participant and include specific program and activity adaptations. Through the POWERS Activity Inclusive Mapping System (AIMS), family members will be provided linkages to community resources to help establish contact with the appropriate personnel in charge of a desired program (e.g., swim class). A live chat feature will allow the participants to obtain on-demand answers to their questions as they engage in health promoting behaviors in the preferred activity or environment. A social-media platform will be developed to allow parents and their child to share ideas, pose questions, suggest strategies, and share experiences on an ongoing basis throughout the intervention. The primary outcomes will address changes to the baseline measures used in the baseline Health Appraisal Profile (HAP).