BACKGROUND: Persons with multiple sclerosis (MS) often experience dexterous difficulties during the performance of activities of daily living, such as fastening buttons, handling coins, or writing, therefore impacting their health-related quality of life. Mobile health (mHealth) solutions, such as tablet apps, may be used to train impaired dexterous skills. The feasibility of a tablet app-based dexterity home-based intervention in MS (TAD-MS) has not been explored yet in persons with MS.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of this pilot study was to evaluate the feasibility and usability of home-based dexterity training with a tablet app in both persons with MS and healthy subjects.
METHODS: A total of 9 persons with MS, aged 35-71 years, with an Expanded Disability Status Scale score between 2 and 7.5, performed the TAD-MS for 4 weeks, five times a week, with each training session lasting approximately 30 minutes. Participants' impaired dexterity was measured by the Nine-Hole Peg Test. A total of 10 age-matched healthy subjects also tested and rated the usability of the app. Outcome measures were the adherence rate as well as usability measured by the System Usability Scale and a Custom User Engagement Questionnaire (CUEQ).
RESULTS: High feasibility of the tablet app-based dexterity training program was shown by a 97% adherence rate to the training protocol (ie, mean 19.4/20 sessions completed, SD 0.8). High system usability scores (ie, mean 85.39%, SD 11.67) and overall high scores given in the CUEQ (ie, mean 8.2/10, SD 1.4) further point to high usability of the app. Neither demographic variables nor dexterity levels affected the use of the app.
CONCLUSIONS: This pilot study is the first to demonstrate high feasibility and usability of a new tablet app-based dexterity home-based training program among both persons with MS and healthy individuals. Whether this kind of training improves dexterity will need to be evaluated in a randomized controlled trial.