Using telerehabilitation to identify home modification needs.

Teleconferencing technology has great potential for providing cost-effective in-home assessment for home modification services from anywhere to anyone in need. Despite its enormous potential, the use of this technology as a means to deliver these specific services had not been investigated. This project investigated the use of televideo technology to provide remote home assessment services to patients prior to discharge so that they could function as independently as possible in their own homes after being discharged from a specialty clinic. Specifically, an assessment protocol that could be implemented using video-conferencing technology was developed and feasibility of the remote assessment process was determined by validating it against the standard of practice, an in-home assessment by a home modifications specialist. Independent in-home and remote home assessments were completed by two occupational therapists who specialize in home modifications. The results were compared for agreement in identification of specific accessibility problems in and quantitative measurements of the home. The remote assessment correctly identified a total of 51 of the 59 problems (86.4%) identified by the in-home assessment and only identified five problems (8.9%) that were not identified by the on-site assessment. In addition, 54 of 60 (90%) of the quantitative measurements from the remote assessment matched those from the in-home assessment. Findings suggest that remote telerehabilitation assessments have the potential to enable specialists to diagnose potential accessibility problems in home environments and prescribe appropriate modifications regardless of the location of the client, home, or specialist.