Volume 41 Number 3B, May/June 2004
Pages 481 — 490
Telerehabilitation for veterans with a lower-limb amputation or ulcer: Technical acceptability of dataDiana H. Rintala, PhD; Thomas A. Krouskop, PhD; John V. Wright; Susan L. Garber, MA, OTR; Jacquelyn Frnka, BSN; Helene K. Henson, MD; Kamal M. F. Itani, MD; William Gaddis, MEd, RKT; Rebeca Matamoros, BS; Trilok N. Monga, MDDepartment of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Houston, TX; Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX; The Institute
for Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR), Houston, TXAbstract — A study was undertaken to determine the technical acceptability of information available via a customized telerehabilitation system regarding patients with lower-limb ulcers or recent lower-limb amputations receiving care at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Among the 54 participants, 57 wounds (39 ulcers, 19 amputation incisions) were evaluated by means of still photographs and skin temperature data sent via ordinary telephone lines. Three experienced clinicians served as raters. Intrarater agreements and McNemar c2 tests were assessed between decisions made after telerehabilitation sessions and decisions made by the same rater after in-person sessions. Interrater agreements and κ coefficients were assessed between two raters for both telerehabilitation and in-person sessions. The intrarater agreement on 57 wounds for the primary rater was 93%, and the McNemar test indicated no significant difference in the ratings (p < 0.63). Interrater agreement on 18 wounds was 78% (κ = 0.55, p < 0.02) for the telerehabilitation sessions and 89% (κ = 0.77, p < 0.001) for the in-person sessions. Most qualitative comments by three clinicians on picture quality (54/63 = 86%) and temperature data (39/44 = 88%) were favorable (good to excellent). The information yielded from this study provides evidence that the telerehabilitation system has the potential to present sufficient information to experienced clinicians so they can make informed decisions regarding wound management. The next phase of the study will include in-home trials and improvements in the technology.
Key words: amputation, telehealth, telemedicine, telerehabilitation, ulcer, wounds.