Using the Tri-Bot for errorless learning in elderly after a hip fracture

Kayl Pijpers and Martin Classen are combining fun, technology and health care in their project whilst treating patients after a hip fracture (Plataan, Sevagram Zorgcentra). Older patients will be playing with a little robot, which is controlled by their arm-movements, which are registered by a senor (Kinect). The Tri-Bot needs to be driven along different courses which are increased in level of difficulty as the patients get better physically but also gain more expertise in controlling the Tri-Bot. As the courses are only increased in difficulty if the patient can successfully achieve the present level, the patient will hopefully experience this kind of treatment as a form of ‘errorless learning’. Most patients find errorless learning very motivating as they are constantly encouraged and motivated because they are achieving their goals. Another advantage of this training might be, that the attention of the patient is focused on the surrounding and the goals of the task (external focus of attention). Learning patients in an early stage to pay attention to the surrounding may prove to be beneficial for the patient when he/she needs to walk in crowded hall ways and other public spaces later on in rehabilitation.

The pilot study that was finished in the summer of 2013 showed that patients enjoyed the training sessions with the Tri-bot. When half of the regular physical therapy sessions were replaced by training sessions with the Tri-bot, the patients kept improving in their physical abilities. Some technical issues need to be solves before another study can be done including a larger patients sample.