Mobile Health and Mobile Rehabilitation for People with Disabilities: Current State, Challenges and Opportunities

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Significant health disparities exist between the general population and people with disabilities, particularly with respect to chronic health conditions. Healthcare delivery via mobile information and communication technology (ICT) devices has witnessed tremendous growth and has been touted as an important new approach for the management of chronic health conditions. The terms mHealth (mobile healthcare), eHealth (electronic healthcare), and mRehab (mobile rehabilitation) all describe the practice of using ICT within various aspects of healthcare. While similar, mHealth is the delivery of general healthcare via mobile communication devices, eHealth is a broader term in which overall healthcare practice is supported by electronic processes that may not necessarily be mobile related, and mRehab is the delivery of rehabilitation services via mobile communication devices.  
At present, little is known about the current state of mHealth for people with disabilities. Early evidence suggests people with disabilities have not been well represented in the growth of mobile healthcare, and particularly with the proliferation of mobile apps for smartphones. While omission could lead to further health disparities, current technical, social, economic and policy trends point to rapidly emerging opportunities to significantly broaden access to enhanced rehabilitation services for people with disabilities.
It has been reported that “The use of ICT eliminates distance barriers and can make rehabilitation and healthcare services available to people who have limited access to transportation and other access issues” (NIH, 2018). If executed successfully, mobile health (mHealth) and rehabilitation (mRehab) strategies could address the key challenges of access and affordability.  ICT-enabled home rehabilitation interventions between outpatient visits offer potential to fill gaps that exist in patient care by: 1) prescribing interventions/instructions to the patient and caregiver, 2) gathering timely data on patient status instead of relying on imprecise recall during clinic visits, 3) presenting data to the patient and clinician in a timely manner, and 4) updating prescribed in-home therapy and recommendations.
mHealth and mRehab innovations have the potential to address challenges to effective and efficient delivery of outpatient rehabilitation by increasing patient motivation and adherence to recommended therapy regimens, improving patient engagement, and permitting more rapid progression between clinic visits.
This Special Thematic Session (STS) invites contributions on all aspects of the accessibility, usability, and effectiveness of mRehab/mHealth/eHealth innovations for people with disabilities including:

  • description of the current state of mHealth/mRehab solutions and mobile apps for people with disabilities, elders, and people with chronic disabling conditions, including challenges and opportunities
  • identification of areas of research and development needed to support the inclusion of people with disabilities in the mRehab/mHealth/eHealth revolution
  • presentation of mRehab/mHealth/eHealth technology solutions and mobile apps aimed at addressing needs of people with specific disabilities or conditions

Contributions to the STS have to be submitted using the standard submission procedures of ICCHP.


Contributions to a STS have to be submitted using the standard submission procedures of ICCHP.
When submitting your contribution please make sure to select the right STS under "Special Thematic Session". Contributions to a STS are evaluated by the Programme Committee of ICCHP and by the chair(s) of the STS. Please get in contact with the STS chairs for discussing your involvement and pre-evaluation of your contribution. Submission Deadline for Contributions to STSs: April 15, 2020