news 8.12.2021

New approaches in rehabilitation through digital technologies

HS Gesundheit exchanges ideas on megatrends in digital rehabilitation in the European DIRENE project. 

The aim of the DIRENE project is to advance digital competences of teachers, students and health professionals in the field of nursing and rehabilitation in order to be better prepared for future challenges, new approaches to patient-centered health care will be developed. The project, which supported by Erasmus+ funds, is being carried out by a multidisciplinary team of experts from the Austrian University of Applied Sciences St. Pölten, the Greek University of West Attica, the Finnish JAMK University, the Spanish University of Balearic Islands as well as the Hochschule für Gesundheit (HS Gesundheit), in Bochum. A transnational project meeting took place in Palma de Mallorca from the 2nd until the 4th November 2021 in which the project partners presented their interim/preliminary results.

The team led by Prof. Dr. Christian Grüneberg, head of the Physiotherapy department at HS Gesundheit, worked to identify megatrends in digital rehabilitation. Digital rehabilitation ranges from mobile health (mHealth), health information technology (IT), miniaturized (wearable) devices, exoskeletons, telerehabilitation and to personalized therapy trehabilitation.

“Not only mobile apps and software applications but also artificial intelligence, machine based learning like chatbots digital technologies shaped the past and will revolutionize the health care in the future,” Grüneberg said. 

"This requires a realignment of the interaction between health professionals and patients or users on a personal level”, added Angela Arntz, research associate in the DIRENE project at HS Gesundheit. 

With the motto „Health Fiction and Good Science”, the consortium is developing a curriculum based on the identified megatrends and their potential. The curriculum includes learning strategies to apply digital technologies successfully in rehabilitation in a patient-centered and sustainable way.

Furthermore, the experts add the global perspective in a sense of a knowledge-transfer and an exchange with associated partners from Africa, like Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, South Africa and Ghana. "Although the technical conditions differ between European and African countries, our associated partners emphasized that the affinity for digital technologies in rehabilitation is already being used in many African countries under the local external factors. Digital technologies appear to the partners as an important component, for example, to be able to counter the undersupply in the countries," Grüneberg summarizes the exchange.

The findings are the basis of a handbook and a learning module that will provide freely available learning materials for teachers, students and therapists in the field of nursing and rehabilitation. The next results will be further developed and tested at a meeting of the DIRENE project group in Finland in early April 2022 and in Austria in mid-June 2022. The project will end by end of March 2023.