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Y. Ezzatvar1, R. Llorens2, V. García3, J. Casaña1

1Universidad de Valencia (SPAIN)
2Instituto de Investigación e Innovación en Bioingeniería (I3B). Universidad Politécnica de Valencia (SPAIN)
3Universidad Politécnica de Valencia (SPAIN)
Although the inclusion of low-cost ICTs in physical therapy-based research is becoming more and more common and evidences promising results derived from their use in both assessment and rehabilitation of physical deficits, their integration in the clinical practice is still limited. Lack of academic training on this subject, which has been evidenced by a survey among undergraduate physical therapists, could partially explain a constrained knowledge translation. Inclusion of academic training on low-cost ICTs in the physical therapy curricula could bridge the existing gap between research and clinical practice. In this manuscript, we describe the content of a proposed subject on low-cost ICTs for physical therapy. The aim of this subject is twofold: firstly, to teach the necessary knowledge about these tools during the physical therapy degree for the student to identify available options and applications to assessment and rehabilitation of the physical condition; and secondly, to make students experiment by themselves with different applications and serious games in practical sessions through team-based and collaborative learning, to promote extrapolation to their future daily routine.

Students attending the proposed subject will receive training on the most relevant characteristics of low-cost ICTs for rehabilitation. Four main topics will be included: mobile apps, virtual reality applications (including off-the-shelf videogames), robotic systems, and solutions for non-Invasive brain stimulation. These themes will provide students with all the necessary information to incorporate low-cost ICTs into their available options for assessment and treatment. After this theoretical training, students will take group-based practical classes where they will experiment different mobile apps, videogames, and virtual reality applications. Participants will interact with the most common devices of the field, such us the Wii Balance Board®, the Kinect®, virtual reality head mounted displays, and will be able to use their own computers, phones, and tablets. Finally, students will work on clinical cases using low-cost ICTs with the objective of achieving a better understanding of their application.

We hypothesize that inclusion of academic training in the physical therapy degree, which links education and research, will increase knowledge of this low-cost tools and their applications, thus promoting:
a) the self-perceived competence of the students and consequently, the future use of these tools in the clinical practice;
b) the critical thinking and participation on the design and adaptation of new tools, and
c) skill transference between disciplines, as technologists and therapists.