Enabling AI and Robotic Coaches for Physical Rehabilitation Therapy: Iterative Design and Evaluation with Therapists and Post-Stroke Survivors

Artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic coaches promise the improved engagement of patients on rehabilitation exercises through social interaction. While previous work explored the potential of automatically monitoring exercises for AI and robotic coaches, the deployment of these systems remains a challenge. Previous work described the lack of involving stakeholders to design such functionalities as one of the major causes. In this paper, we present our efforts on eliciting the detailed design specifications on how AI and robotic coaches could interact with and guide patient's exercises in an effective and acceptable way with four therapists and five post-stroke survivors. Through iterative questionnaires and interviews, we found that both post-stroke survivors and therapists appreciated the potential benefits of AI and robotic coaches to achieve more systematic management and improve their self-efficacy and motivation on rehabilitation therapy. In addition, our evaluation sheds light on several practical concerns (e.g. a possible difficulty with the interaction for people with cognitive impairment, system failures, etc.). We discuss the value of early involvement of stakeholders and interactive techniques that complement system failures, but also support a personalized therapy session for the better deployment of AI and robotic exercise coaches.

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