Kinector is a wearable device for physical therapy patients to be conscious about their movements throughout the recovery process. It not only reminds patients when their movement is harmful to their injury, but also records when and what they are doing, and this data can later be pulled up to be reviewed by the patients and their physical therapist. It adapts to and integrates into the patients' daily life easily, and puts tools and information in their hands to increase transparency and feedback for both patients and therapists.
Collaborated with Alexis Bieda and Jade Granger
What are the challenges with communication between patients and physical therapists in translating and discussing the recovery process?
We conducted interviews with four patients of different injuries and four physical therapists of various levels of expertise to understand and analyze the communication between patients and physical therapists, and from the interviews we gathered insights.
"Yeah, I still try to go through the same wrist exercises my physical therapist showed me when I was going through physical therapy. Even now, my wrist feels better if I take the time out to do that." - Patient 1
"A lot of what I do is managing expectations and fear, so that when I come talk to a patient, it's not me coming in to make them change, it's a process of accepting and working with what they can do." - Physical Therapist 2
"I loved that my physical therapist was as sarcastic as I was, and that when I talked with him, we like connected over that, and it made it really easy." - Patient 3
"Physical therapy is really best described as a therapeutic alliance. It's hard when the patient doesn't understand they have to contribute as much as the therapist." - Physical Therapist 1
From what we learned from the interviews, we decided to focus on designing a device that will help patients and physical therapists build a common language as well as correcting the patients' daily movements, while carrying out the following design principles that we've set.
Value and support the emotional cost of the physical therapy process
Integrate the disruptive effects of physical therapy into a patient's preferred way of life
Encourage patients to take an active role in their own recovery
Respect patient's differences and respond to them
Facilitate an open and sincere dialogue between patients and their physical therapist
Our prototype had LED lights that would light up when the patients move incorrectly, and would prompt them with voice output to record what they feel, and build the common language. However, when we tested the prototype, the participants found that the voice interaction distracting and interrupting their daily tasks, and therefore, we decided to focus on just correcting movements and tracking their daily progress. We also decided to use a subtle vibration instead of LED to remind patients.
Different concepts and sketches for the final wearable device.