or Abstract The successful application of magnification devices for reading and daily tasks is predicated on their correct use by individuals with low vision (LV), which can require several training sessions. Barriers related to transportation, geography, and/or co-morbidities often limit LV patients' ability to attend several in-office training sessions as part of low vision rehabilitation (LVR) to enhance visual function with magnification devices. A promising solution is the provision of real-time magnifier training and motivational support from an affordable socially assistive robot (SAR) to a LV patient at home. We propose to adapt and deploy SARs to promote optimal use of magnifiers and long-term engagement by providing motivation and reinforcement of skills at home. The SAR will be designed to help improve LV patients' reading efficiency, reduce their frustration, and encourage the use of the magnification device for a greater number of tasks and/or duration, thus minimizing the likelihood of abandonment of the magnifier device. Specifically, we propose to customize SAR interaction and data collection capabilities for use with adults who have newly received a hand-held magnifier for near reading tasks. We will obtain feedback from LV patients seen at the UCLA vision rehabilitation center to help guide the modifications throughout the development process. We will generate new dialog and conversations for the SAR, as well as add the ability to record, store and forward audio/video to document the LV patient performing reading tasks with their magnifier. The SAR will engage in conversations pertaining to the use of the magnifier, and use a tablet screen to solicit patients' input and display basic instructional videos. The SAR will utilize motivational dialog to enhance patients' magnifier use by promoting acceptance, adherence, and skills reinforcement. Following this development of a SAR to support magnifier use for reading, we will evaluate changes in patient outcomes following in-home deployment of a SAR for LVR. We will use a small-scale randomized controlled trial with crossover design to assess changes in reading function and/or psychosocial status among LV patients who receive the SAR intervention developed in Aim 1 for a period of 8-weeks at home compared to a control group who does not receive any intervention. After the initial 8-week evaluation period, the controls will crossover to receive the SAR for 12-weeks. Outcome measures administered on a monthly basis throughout the six-month study period will provide periodic estimates of effect size to assess for meaningful trends. We also aim to utilize data from Bluetooth beacon sensor stickers attached to the hand-held portion of magnifiers during the study period to quantify the frequency and duration of magnifier use, in order to assess behavior change in response to the SAR. This work will evaluate the preliminary efficacy of the SAR intervention for LVR involving magnifiers and refine the modifications to the SAR, in order to plan future larger-scale clinical trial protocols.

Public Health Relevance

! The aims of this exploratory research project are to customize and evaluate a socially assistive robot as a novel approach to motivate and encourage optimal use of new magnification devices for reading in individuals with vision loss. The goals are to promote patient acceptance, adherence and skills reinforcement to achieve proficiency in the use of the magnifier, in order to attempt to reduce visual disability while performing important daily activities, such as reading tasks. This is a high priority given the increasing prevalence of low vision, paucity of low vision rehabilitation providers, and barriers related to access to care, such as transportation and geography, all of which motivate the development of this complementary approach for the provision of additional support at home by the socially assistive robot.!

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Eye Institute (NEI)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
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Wiggs, Cheri
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University of California Los Angeles
Schools of Medicine
Los Angeles
United States
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