R1. Scoping Discovery Review of Complex Rehabilitation Technology (CRT)

Project Leader(s): Carmen DiGiovine, PhD, ATP/SMS, RET & Richard M. Schein, PhD, MPH

Co-Leaders:  Theresa Berner, MOT, OTR/L, ATP, & Melissa Wright, MPT, ATP

Other Project Personnel: Madelyn Betz, BS, Peyton Galbreath, Rachel Hibbs, DPT, NCS, ATP, Ashley Stojkov, & Tyler Beauregard, MS, AT, ATC, CSCS


The overall goal will be to identify and investigate barriers and opportunities to current coverage policy for CRT to fully understand their benefits and shortcomings for the development of a new proposed coverage policy. The aims of the project are to: 1) identify and investigate barriers to current coverage policy for Complex Rehabilitation Technology via a scoping review of current health & disability policy recommendations; 2) engage with a diverse group of stakeholders (who mostly are part of our overall project team) to assist with the creation of an online survey that validates common themes from the scoping review ; and 3) create and distribute an online Qualtrics survey to multiple healthcare stakeholder groups relevant to CRT.

The work is led and collaborated by the University of Pittsburgh, The Ohio State University, and the University of Michigan all high-ranking academic institutions along with premier access to health science library systems and key stakeholders at Assistive Technology Centers.  Engagement of stakeholders is critical throughout this project from consumers/caregivers, clinicians, suppliers, industry groups, manufacturers, payers, and professional associations.  Each will assist in identifying the current barriers that exist with current health policy and the ingredients to a new accountable coverage policy as well as.

Findings of this project will be summarized and disseminated in documents suitable for press releases, policy briefs, white papers, and peer-review publication, and will serve as stakeholder-driven guidelines for future development of new policies for CRT. In addition, the survey data will help establish stakeholder group consensus to provide elements and attributes of a new CRT policy.


As of December 1, 2021

Team members have completed each of the 6 steps in the scoping review process. The six steps are listed below and are based on the process described by Colquhoun et al. (2014).

  1. Identifying the research question – COMPLETED
  2. Identifying relevant studies – COMPLETED
  3. Study selection – COMPLETED
  4. Charting the data – COMPLETED
  5. Collating, summarizing, and reporting the results – COMPLETED
  6. Consultation – COMPLETED

The research question for the scoping review is “What is the complex rehabilitation technology (CRT) service delivery process for individuals with a disability that have a mobility impairment?”. Based on the research questions we searched nine databases and four conference proceedings. The search resulted in 2,942 articles for review of title and abstracts. After completing the title and abstract review, we completed a full-text review for the remaining 314 articles. Finally, we identified 57 articles that were reviewed for data charting, collating, summarizing, and reporting. Based on the initial charting and collating process, we have identified theme topics and sub-topics, which will be disseminated in form of a manuscript within the peer review literature. (Coming Soon)

Based on the success of the scoping review, which included stakeholder consultation, the team transitioned to the development of an online survey. Semi-structured interviews/focus groups were conducted to assist in content creation/validation for the refinement and development of the online survey. The initial survey was drafted based and received feedback to only address the clarity and relevance of the survey questions. Three sets of stakeholders completed survey: 1) subject matter experts (SMEs) in R1 project; 2) SMEs in overall DRRP project; and 3) SMEs external to DRRP. The clarity and relevance results were analyzed whereby a revised survey was created based on the feedback. A specific dissemination strategy was undertaken to identify stakeholder groups & survey distribution methods. This is an opportunity for all to stakeholders to express their opinions regarding current wheelchair service and funding policy.


Lastly, team members investigated Open Science Framework (OSF) (https://osf.io/) to assist with dissemination as it is a free, open-source web application that connects and supports research workflow, enabling scientists to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their research. OSF allows researchers to collaborate, document, archive, share, and register research projects, materials, and data. The Scoping Discovery Review of CRT can be found at the following link, https://osf.io/rnqzx.


Betz, M., Galbreath, P., DiGiovine, C.P., & Schein, R.M. (2021, July). Complex Rehabilitation Technology Service Delivery: Scoping Review Process & Methodology. Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA). https://www.resna.org/sites/default/files/conference/2021/ServiceDeliveryandOutcomes/68_Betz.html  

DiGiovine, C.P. Schmeler, M.R., & Schein, R.M. (2021, July). ‘Overview of NIDILRR DRRP Program: Research on Healthcare Policy and Disability ‘The Right Wheelchair for the Right Person at the Right Time.’ Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA).

University of Pittsburgh, Network ISS: A Prelude to Pittsburgh (Producer). (2021). Complex Rehabilitation Technology Service Delivery and Clinical Assessment Research: What Happens Behind the Curtain. http://rstce.pitt.edu/RSTCE_Webinar/2021/RSTCE_ISSWS2021.04.html

  • in collaboration with the R2 project and with invited panelists

‘Complex Rehab Technology Scoping Review Results’ – accepted for presentation at the 2021/2022 International Seating Symposium (ISS), Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

The contents of this website were developed under a grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR grant number 90DPGE0014-01-00). NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this website do not necessarily represent the policy of NIDILRR, ACL, or HHS, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.