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Repair strategies for assistive technology in low resource settings

Oldfrey, Ben; Holloway, Cathy; Walker, Julian; McCormack, Steven; Deere, Bernadette; Kenney, Laurence; Ssekitoleko, Robert; Ackers, Helen; Miodownik, Mark

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Ben Oldfrey

Cathy Holloway

Julian Walker

Steven McCormack

Bernadette Deere

Robert Ssekitoleko

Mark Miodownik


To investigate the practices of repair that exist for users of mobility assistive products in low resource settings, as well as the psychosocial impact that the repair, or non-repair, of these devices has on users’ lives.

Materials and Methods
This article collates data on repair practices and the responses from participants on the topic of repair from studies conducted by the authors across four different low resource settings in Kenya, Uganda, Sierra Leone, and Indonesia. This data was then analyzed to identify the common themes found across geographies.

Three major models of repair practice emerged from the data: “Individual or Informal Repair in the Community”; “Local Initiatives”; and “Specialist AT Workshop Repair”. Additionally, the wider impact on the participants’ lives of “Problems & Concerns with Repair”; “Experiences of Breakages & Frequencies of Repair” and the “Impact of Broken Devices” are explored.

The results of this analysis demonstrate the paramount importance of community-based repair of devices, and how despite this importance, repair is often overlooked in the planning and design of assistive products and services. There is a need to further incorporate and support these informal contributions as part of the formal provision systems of assistive device.

A lack of available specialist repair services in low resource settings hinders the potential impact of assistive technology provision systems.

Community-based repair is the major route by which assistive devices are repaired in low resource settings.

Appropriate community-based repair strategies should be incorporated into and supported by the formal assistive technology provision models in order to optimise outcomes.

A lack of data on outcomes across the lifecycle of assistive products hinders progress on improving focus on follow-up services – in particular repair & maintenance.

By supporting community-based repair, repairs that are inappropriate for that approach could be better directed to specialist repair services.


Oldfrey, B., Holloway, C., Walker, J., McCormack, S., Deere, B., Kenney, L., …Miodownik, M. (in press). Repair strategies for assistive technology in low resource settings. Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology, 1-11.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 5, 2023
Online Publication Date Jul 19, 2023
Deposit Date Jul 20, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jul 21, 2023
Journal Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology
Print ISSN 1748-3107
Electronic ISSN 1748-3115
Publisher Taylor and Francis
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Pages 1-11
Keywords Speech and Hearing, Rehabilitation, Biomedical Engineering, Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
Additional Information Peer Review Statement: The publishing and review policy for this title is described in its Aims & Scope.; Aim & Scope:; Received: 2022-08-30; Revised: 2023-06-19; Accepted: 2023-07-05; Published: 2023-07-19


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