Poster Session
Issue Date: August 2016
Published Online: August 01, 2016
Updated: January 01, 2021
An Exploration of the Neurotechnology Used Within Occupational Therapy
Author Affiliations
  • Creighton University
  • Creighton University
Article Information
Education of OTs and OTAs / Neurologic Conditions / Professional Issues / Rehabilitation, Participation, and Disability / Spinal Cord Injury / Stroke / Health Services Research and Education
Poster Session   |   August 01, 2016
An Exploration of the Neurotechnology Used Within Occupational Therapy
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011510200.
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011510200.

Date Presented 4/7/2016

Examined neurotechnology (NT) in neurorehab settings to advance the field’s understanding of the use, effectiveness, and barriers of NT to more efficiently treat patients while maximizing the effects of neuroplasticity.

Primary Author and Speaker: Shirley Blanchard

Additional Author and Speaker: Kristin Zellner

Contributing Authors: Jeremy Palmiscno, Catherine Crivellone, Ricard Altahif

To examine occupational therapists’ (OTs’) knowledge of neurotechnology (NT), barriers to utilization, and perceived effectiveness for clients with cerebrovascular accident (CVA), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and spinal cord injury (SCI).
NT is the application of mechanical electronics and engineering to the human nervous system, any artificial means to integrate the brain and nervous system to change its activity, simulate neuronal and biological networks, or interface with implants. Lack of knowledge and research on how OTs access and use NT to achieve quicker and more cost-effective functional gains is lacking. Application of NT without evidence may result in barriers to use and denied reimbursement.
This exploratory study used a cross-sectional survey design to examine the types of NT used in the rehabilitation setting by OTs, its perceived effectiveness, and barriers to accessibility.
The inclusion criteria for this study consisted of licensed and registered OTs who had ≥1 yr experience working with patients who experienced a TBI, CVA, or SCI. Certified occupational therapy assistants were excluded from this study because their scope of practice would not include writing intervention plans, particularly involving the use of NT.
The survey questionnaire consisted of 29 close-ended and 6 open-ended questions to address the research questions of the study that included (1) the common types of NT used among occupational therapy practitioners; (2) the perceived effectiveness of current NT used in the rehabilitation setting for CVA, TBI, and SCI; and (3) the potential barriers an OT may encounter while obtaining NT. Open-ended questions sought to identify additional themes related to the study’s research questions.
Descriptive statistics analysis was used through SPSS to determine a central tendency and frequency among the sample. Statistical significance was based on a p < .05. The Wilcoxon signed-rank test was used to compare differences among responses. Open-ended question responses were coded to identify common themes among occupational therapy practitioner responses.
Barriers to utilizing NT with neurological patients included lack of availability (63%), lack of training (61%), cost (42%), and devices perceived to be complicated to use (34%). Practitioners agreed that NT may augment traditional interventions and that patients are more satisfied with the added benefit of NT. The most often used NT included the mirror box and REO technology.
The results of the present study identified barriers including a lack of training opportunities, the complicated use of NT, and a relatively high cost of NT compared with other available treatment or therapies. However, many companies and facilities are not offering continuing education on the topic of NT. Additional research, specifically regarding occupational therapy, is vital for demonstrating the effectiveness of NT, which can increase both the frequency and the number of repetitions to facilitate neuroplasticity and neuromuscular reeducation.
Further education and research in this area will help occupational therapists to better understand the benefits of using NT instead of, or in conjunction with, traditional therapeutic methods in order to maximize patients’ benefits and functional gains. Our research is the first of its genre with regard to currently practicing OTs and the use of NT in practice and will assist as a foundation for how NT can become more readily available and incorporated into occupational therapy practice to increase efficiency and effectiveness of NT-based interventions.