Global need for rehabilitation is increasing due to population aging and increases in chronic health conditions, among other causes. WHO (2020), estimates that by 2050 over 2 billion people globally will need one or more assistive device at some point in their lives. Therefore, the need for cost-effective services and solutions for rehabilitation is evident.
Digital transformation provides many opportunities, however many rehabilitation service providers and healthcare professionals in Europe and elsewhere, struggle using the new digital opportunities. The rehabilitation sector was one of the affected sector that was strongly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, which enhanced the use of digital technologies. Nevertheless, part of the challenges faced by the rehabilitation sector include the lack of technical knowledge, capacities, and competences in the application of Digital Rehabilitation. One of the main identified challenges in the adaption of new digital opportunities is the access to relevant and evidence-based knowledge. It is important to know which solutions could be used or how to include digital rehabilitation into the scope of services provided.
Another identified challenge is the general competence and capability of rehabilitation workforce to design use-cases, with the users, for the existing digital solutions and for the different emerging technologies. Transnational cooperation in higher education offers an opportunity to develop competences on scale and to ensure access to required diverse knowledge in Digital Rehabilitation.
The overall objective of this project is to contribute towards the resilience of rehabilitation systems. The specific objectives of the project include:
- developing Digital Rehabilitation competences of higher education educators and teachers, students and working life professionals.
- increasing learning opportunities in digital rehabilitation through evidence-based theory and practice.
Future users of these objectives of the DIRENE project will be the following four extended groups: educators, learners, working life professionals and service users.
1.) Educators and teachers can be lecturers of students in higher education as well as trainers of professionals in any health and social rehabilitation setting, which would also include engineers/technicians.
2.) Learners can be students and professionals who apply or want to apply Digital Rehabilitation and the knowledge/skills/behaviour/competency involved.
3.) Working life professionals are practitioners who provide therapeutic, medical and health care services/interventions within the rehabilitation process ("service provider").
4.) Service users are all individuals who receive therapeutic, medical and health care services/interventions within the rehabilitation process. This group may extend on their families / relatives, carers and communities.
The project is managed by a multidisciplinary team of experts from the JAMK University of Applied Sciences, Institute of Rehabilitation of the School of Health and Social Studies, from Finland. European partners of the project include St. Poelten University of Applied Sciences from Austria, Hochschule für Gesundheit University of Applied Sciences, from Germany, University of West Attica from Greece and University of the Balearic Islands from Spain.
The project objectives will be achieved through active cooperation and networking. Different stakeholders are widely invited to contribute to the development work, including partners outside Europe, who will offer new expertise and reverse learning opportunities. Results will be widely disseminated through websites, social media, multiplier events and through new open learning opportunities.
Directly, project engages around 300 rehabilitation experts in Europe. Indirectly, through dissemination and data collection activities, it is expected that over thousand people will be contributing to final outcomes. Transnational cooperation is essential in order to develop innovative rehabilitation practices to answer to the global challenges brought by COVID-19. Transnational cooperation ensures that partners are able to share their expertise in Digital Rehabilitation and to develop standards that go beyond remote and tele- rehabilitation initiatives.
At the end of the two-year project the objectives will be achieved through developed Discussion papers, Framework, open pedagogical Handbook for educators and a study Module with open on-line learning materials for the use of identified target groups in Europe and beyond. Links to these are provided under www.jamk.fi/direne/materials and in the handbook https://www.jamk.fi/en/project/direne/handbook.
The project will provide valuable insights for global discussion on Digital Rehabilitation and is expected to lead to many new initiatives to improve rehabilitation globally.
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