Communicating My Work in Rehabilitation Research: Brackenridge Fellowship Blog Post – Yifan Xiang

Presenting my work which is investigating the facilitators and barriers to wireless technology use of rehabilitation providers for rehabilitation intervention is very important, however, it can be challenging especially for people outside of my field. Luckily, we practice how to convey the purpose and significance of our research during the Brackenridge fellowship and one of the methods I learned is to use examples or sometimes they are called metaphors.

Image Citation: APDM Wearable Technologies. (2015).

Research is all about logic so using examples really helps general audiences to get the gist of our works. The term “general audiences” is not far from myself since I am already one in my cohorts towards other researchers. I found understanding their research becomes a lot easier after metaphors to convey. But this cannot apply to every research, for some when the concept is already well known in general population, it is better to build on what the audiences know and convey directly. For the others, such as one of the fellows in my cohort doing research using artificial intelligence and machine learning technique to train computer to recognize medical images, adding an example like “teaching your kid to learn a new skill” can be helpful to audiences who are not familiar with artificial intelligence. Another example is one of the fellows doing research in biology, once she used the word “boxes” to explain, the abstract concept suddenly makes sense to me. Using examples and metaphors as strategies does not only help audiences to understand what’s going on quickly but also set the first step of collaboration so future works can be done to build on what it has at this moment.

After reflection, I plan to incorporate examples into my presentation of research to audiences. The most important thing in my view is to let the audiences understand what this research is doing and why the work of this research is significant. But before the significance and purpose, problems come first, even though sometimes bringing the purpose of research first is better. For introducing the problems, I can describe a scenario coming from a survey of occupational therapists (one type of rehabilitation providers help patients to learn how to do daily tasks after a severe health issue that caused functional impairment) feeling challenging to assess, incorporate, educate, or keep track of progress of patients using mainstream wireless technology in rehabilitation. Before this, I would like to introduce the benefits of rehabilitation technology and especially mainstream wireless technology to patients with disabilities and older adults. I can even think about a metaphor to describe the current situation that rehabilitation providers need more support to introduce technologies to people with disabilities or older adults. In this way, here comes my research purpose to investigate the barriers and facilitators of mainstream wireless technology use of rehabilitation providers. The aim is to figure out recommendations in the practice setting, policy, and funding to see how we can better support rehabilitation providers to help their clients to use these technologies. Then I will introduce the significance that the progress of research in this area can not only benefit people with disabilities and older adults but also providers, engineers, and policymakers. Together, we hope to increase the accessibility of mainstream wireless rehabilitation technologies by focusing on the two major stakeholders: rehabilitation providers and people with disabilities.

In the future I plan to work in rehabilitation fields, the center of my work will be around people with disabilities and older adults. From my current interactions with them, I realize every one of them are unique in their way: they all have different functions, mindsets, and spiritual beliefs. They may not be the direct audiences of my research work, but all works in rehabilitation are target on them. In this way, it is meaningful to communicate my work to them while interacting with them both professionally and casually. This will need more considerable communication compared to audiences in general, even drawing my research out can be a way of communication. In this way, all the ideas I learned from Brackenridge fellowship is very valuable for letting me start to think and be mindful of how to be a better communicator for different types of audiences for my work.

Leave a Reply