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Technology had revolutionized the way complex health conditions are handled and managed to improve the quality of care and patient outcomes. Clinical researchers are leveraging technology to innovate novel approaches that seek to enhance accessibility and patient-centered care. This paper is a critical review of three research articles on the use of assistive technology in pediatric-acquired brain injury. The first article focuses on the use of a mobile phone application in the self-management of pediatric concussion, while the second one majors on professionals’ views on the use of smart technology to support children with acquired brain injury. The last article is a review of the available literature on technology-assisted rehabilitation interventions after pediatric brain injury.
Brief Summary of the Current Research
According to the first article, mobile applications could play an important role in the self-management of pediatric brain injury. According to Wong, Sinclair, Seabrook, McKay, and Ponsford (2017), mobile health (mHealth) technologies are some of the best platforms for the self-management of different health conditions because they are ubiquitous, have high computational capacities, and are accessible to many people. The authors of this article created a native app to promote self-management after pediatric brain injury. Participants who used this app during the study rated it highly in terms of its usability and functionality.
In the second article, Plackett, Thomas, and Thomas (2017) sought to identify, from a “health-care professionals’ perspective whether smartphones are used by children and adolescents with acquired brain injury as memory aids; what factors predict smartphone use and what barriers prevent the use of smartphones as memory aids by children and adolescents” (p. 263). The researchers established that over 75 percent of the participating healthcare professionals supported the use of assistive technology in the management of acquired brain injury among children and adolescents.
The last article, Wade et al. (2018), through literature review, established that the commonly used technologies in the management of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in children include mobile apps, robotics, web-based programs, and gaming systems. In addition, the authors concluded that technology-assisted interventions following acquired brain injury played an important role in pediatric rehabilitation after TBI.
Critical Review of the Current Research
The first article by Wong et al. (2017) offers valuable information concerning how mobile phone apps could be useful tools in the self-management care following TBI. The authors developed a prototype mobile phone app from scratch and recruited participants to use it before assessing its functionality and usability. As such, evidence-based data was collected, which could be useful in the management of this condition among children. However, the research had several limitations. For instance, the number of participants (n=14) is too small for the results to be extrapolated or generalized in other set-ups. Besides, the participants could have been biased by being motivated or knowledgeable in the self-management of concussion, and thus the sample may not be representative. Additionally, the study was conducted with researchers present in the room, which could have influenced the behavior and performance of the participants for being aware that they are being observed.
In the second article by Plackett et al. (2017), the sample of the study was geographically varied as it included diverse healthcare professionals around and outside the United Kingdom (UK). As such, the results are likely to be unbiased, and thus they could be extrapolated or generalized in other set-ups and geographical locations. The study also contributed significantly to the growing area of research on the use of mobile phones apps as assistive technologies in the management of pediatric and adolescent traumatic brain injury. However, given that the study used a novel survey, the reliability and validity of the questionnaires could not be evaluated. Similarly, a cross-sectional survey design was used, and thus the researchers could not establish the causal relationship between positive attitudes towards reported smartphone use and the application of assistive technology in the process.
The third article by Wade et al. (2018) offered important insights into the state of research on the issue of assistive technology in the management of pediatric TBI. The authors reviewed articles published between 2000 and 2017on this topic and established that different technologies were being used to assist in the management of TBI in children. According to the results of this study, assistive technologies are being used to improve motor functioning, language and communication functioning, cognitive functioning, and behavioral skills. However, the majority of the reviewed articles were limited in the rigor of their methodologies due to lack of control groups or small non-representative samples. Consequently, the results obtained from these studies may not be generalizable in other set-ups.
In contemporary times, healthcare provision is leaning towards evidence-based practices based on primary data obtained in the course of dispensing services to patients. Additionally, research plays a central role in informing the direction that clinical practices should take when dealing with patients and designing treatment protocols. As such, the results obtained from the current research on the topic of assistive technology in the management of pediatric TBI inform clinical decisions in this area. For instance, healthcare providers can use these studies as the basis for recommending different mobile phone apps in the self-management of brain injury among children and teenagers. Given the ubiquitous nature of mobile devices and the proof that they could be useful intervention tools in the management of TBI, care professionals now have an accessible, cheap, and efficient way of dealing with this health condition among children. In summary, the current research on assistive technology in pediatric TBI will impact clinical practice positively.
Future Directions for Research
Future directions for research on this topic should be geared towards addressing gaps and limitations of the current studies. For instance, one common limitation is the use of small heterogeneous samples, which could lead to biased results. Therefore, future research should focus on using large randomized samples to avoid bias and ensure the generalizability of results. Additionally, the current research seems to major on the use of mobile phone apps as assistive technologies in the management of pediatric TBI. Therefore, further research should explore how other technologies, such as virtual reality, could be used to address this problem. The role of other extraneous factors, including the role of parents among other elements, on the effectiveness of assistive technology in the management of pediatric TBI should also be studied to gain a comprehensive understanding of this topic.
Assistive technology in the management of pediatric TBI is becoming an important topic among researchers and clinicians in this area of care provision. The current research shows that different technologies, such as mobile phone apps and gaming, could be used as intervention tools when dealing with pediatric TBI. Consequently, clinicians and other healthcare professionals could tap into this emerging knowledge and help children recover from TBI using accessible, cheap, and effective tools, such as mobile devices. However, future research is needed to fill current gaps and explore the applicability of other technologies on this topic.
Plackett, R., Thomas, S., & Thomas, S. (2017). Professionals’ views on the use of smartphone technology to support children and adolescents with memory impairment due to acquired brain injury. Disability and Rehabilitation, 12(3), 236-243.
Wade, S. L., Narad, M. E., Shultz, E. L., Kurowski, B. G., Miley, A. E., Aguilar, J. S., & Adlam, A. R. (2018). Technology-assisted rehabilitation interventions following pediatric brain injury. Journal of Neurosurgical Sciences, 62(2), 187-202.
Wong, D., Sinclair, K., Seabrook, E., McKay, A., & Ponsford, J. (2017). Smartphones as assistive technology following traumatic brain injury: A preliminary study of what helps and what hinders. Disability and Rehabilitation, 39(23), 2387-2394.