Purpose: We examined different methods to reduce the burden of accessing technology for videoconferencing during telerehabilitation for magnification devices for the visually impaired.
Methods: During telerehabilitation studies over the past 5 years, vision rehabilitation providers assessed and gave training to visually impaired participants with newly dispensed magnification devices at home who connected to Zoom videoconferencing via loaner tablets or smartphones with assistance from (phase 1; n = 10) investigators by phone, (phase 2; n = 11) local Lions Club volunteers in participants' homes, or (phase 3; n = 24) remote access control software in a randomized controlled trial with 13 usual care controls who received in-office training. All participants completed the same post-telerehabilitation phone survey.
Results: A significantly greater proportion of phase 3 subjects indicated they strongly or mostly agreed that the technology did not interfere with the session (96%) compared to phase 1 (60%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.2-12.5; P = 0.03) or phase 2 (55%; 95% CI, 1.8-188; P = 0.01). The majority indicated telerehabilitation was as accurate as in person (68%), they were comfortable with telerehabilitation (91%) and interested in a future session (83%), and their magnifier use improved (79%), with no significant differences in these responses between phases (all P > 0.10), including comparisons of participants randomized to telerehabilitation or in-office training in phase 3 who reported similar overall satisfaction levels (P = 0.84).
Conclusions: Participants across all phases reported high levels of acceptance for telerehabilitation, with least interference from technology using remote access control in phase 3.
Translational relevance: With accommodations for accessibility to videoconferencing technology, telerehabilitation for magnification devices can be a feasible, acceptable, and valuable option in countries with resources to support the technology.