ATLANTA—In a pilot program, the smartphone application MOVES has proven to be an effective tool to measure community integration of military veterans with mild traumatic brain (TBI) injury.
Georgia State University researchers, led by Dr. Pey-Shan Wen, assistant professor of occupational therapy, and rehabilitation scientists at Veterans Affairs in Gainesville, Fla., used the application to measure veterans’ community activity. The team also compared the app’s accuracy to a nine-question, self-reported assessment used by the veterans.
The researchers recruited civilians without TBI and veterans with mild TBI to test the feasibility and accuracy of using the app to measure community integration. Results were recently published in the journal OTJR: Occupation, Participation, and Health.
The MOVES app is free and available for Apple and Android smartphones, making it easy to acquire. The phone app collects real-time data as the participant carries it whenever away from home. The self-reported survey relies on the veteran’s memory, which can be unreliable.
The team found the MOVES app produced 90 percent accuracy in the veteran’s community participation versus a 53 percent accuracy in the self-reported assessment. The most significant challenges with the app occurred with participants who worked in multiple geographic locations, requiring each site to be labeled in the app’s GPS.
The pilot program reached the primary goal of finding an affordable, easy-to-use application to measure veteran’s community reintegration objectively. The app appeared to be a superior measurement tool to the self-reported assessment. Future research will be needed to include a larger sample of veterans of various ages, the severity of TBI and living situations, urban and rural.
Dr. Pey-Shan Wen
Department of Occupational Therapy
Dr. Pey-Shan Wen’s research focuses on using item response theory in measurement development/ validation/refinement. Her research is all interdisciplinary; she works with various health professionals such as physical therapists, speech therapists, social workers, neuropsychologists, physicians, etc. Dr. Wen’s most recent work focuses on community reintegration and psychosocial adjustment in individuals or veterans with traumatic brain injury or amputees.