Title: Power and support from the net: usability and sociability on an internet-based rehabilitation course for people with multiple sclerosis

Authors: Maire Heikkinen

Addresses: Pähkinamaenkatu 2 E 26, FIN-33840 Tampere, Finland

Abstract: Rehabilitation for people with a long-term progressive neurological disease like Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is essential to obtain information on the disease and adapt to it. From a practitioners| point of view, it is important that the rehabilitation for MS should encourage patients| autonomy and improve their quality of life. The rehabilitation for MS patients are traditionally been face-to-face courses and personal physiotherapy, but the internet has enabled some forms of online rehabilitation. Because of the novelty of rehabilitation courses on the internet, studies on rehabilitation are still few and important also from a scientific point of view. The study at hand is a longitudinal case study on an internet-based rehabilitation course. The focus of the research is the concept of virtual community and especially sociability, which existed among the participants during the course. The results show that internet rehabilitation courses may suit MS patients. Peer support and the exchange of experiences were deemed by the participants to be the most important outcome of the online course. The trust level between the participants was very high. In contrast to several other studies, the present study shows that MS patients prefer knowing each other to anonymity on the internet rehabilitation courses.

Keywords: multiple sclerosis; MS rehabilitation; trust; virtual communities; internet rehabilitation; usability; sociability; web-based communities; online communities; online rehabilitation.

DOI: 10.1504/IJWBC.2009.021563

International Journal of Web Based Communities, 2009 Vol.5 No.1, pp.83 - 104

Published online: 30 Nov 2008 *

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