The Scale-Up Project Evaluating Responsiveness to Home Exercise And Lifestyle Tele-Health (SUPER-HEALTH) is a large randomized controlled study that aims to overcome logistical barriers to exercise via telehealth for people with physical disabilities. However, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, enrollment was halted due to a limited business model at the testing site, which included no on-site visits that involved participant data collection. In response to the limited operations, a modified data collection protocol was developed for virtual enrollment of study participants.
This paper presents feasibility data for using teleassessments for enrolling people with mobility impairment into a home-based exercise trial.
The modified protocol replaced onsite enrollment and data collection visits with teleassessments using a computer tablet and testing equipment that was shipped to the participants’ home address prior to the synchronous teleassessments conducted by an exercise physiologist and trained research assistant through Zoom. Participants were mailed a teleassessment toolkit that included a digital blood pressure cuff, spirometer, hand dynamometer, mini disc cone, and measuring tape (to complete standardized testing). The teleassessment measures included resting blood pressure and heart rate, forced vital capacity (FVC), grip strength, Five Times Sit to Stand, and Timed Up and Go. Feasibility metrics included enrollment, effectiveness, efficiency, and safety. Effectiveness of telehealth assessment was determined by the percentage of sessions completed without technical issues with ≥ 90% criteria set a priori. Efficiency was measured by the the duration of sessions with ≤ 2 hour criteria set a prior. Safety was measured by number of adverse events related to teleassessments reported.
Data from 36 participants were included in this feasibility study and 34 participants completed all teleassessments without technical issues (94.4%). For efficiency, the teleassessments sessions were completed in a mean time of 65 minutes and ranged from 41 – 110 minutes. There were no adverse events reported to indicate concerns with safety of teleassessments.
The modified teleassessment protocol, in response to COVID-19 restrictions, has shown to be a feasible process for enrolling adults with mobility impairment into a home exercise trial who otherwise would have not been able to participate.