Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tutorial Eight - Assistive Technology

What is assistive technology?

"Assistive Technology Products can enable people with disabilities to accomplish daily living tasks, assist them in communication, education, work or recreation activities, in essence, help them achieve greater independence and enhance their quality of life." (RehabTool LLC, 2004).

Above I have highlighted the key points in assistive technology. It is to enable individuals to accomplish and assist them with aspects of living to help achieve a greater independence and provide a better quality of life.

There are many variables for assitive technology and these include

Assistive/Rehabilitation or Educational Technologies - those which assist the individual in their daily activities vs technology that is used as a tool for rehabilitation or remediation.

Low to high technology - easy to make and easy to obtain vs difficult to make and difficult to obtain.

Hard and soft technologies - Readily available contents that can be purchased and assembled into assistive technologies vs human areas of decision making, strategies, training, concept formation etc.

Appliances versus tools - providing benefits to the individuals skill basis vs require skills for use.

Minimal to maximal technology - augment rather than replace function vs significant abilities needed to use technology.

General versus specific technologies - used in many different applications vs used in specific applications.

Commercial to custom technologies - Standard for general population vs Special for disabled population.

Data from: Odor (1984), Rizer, Ourand, Rein (1990), Smith (1991), Vanderheiden (1987).

But what does this all mean?
It means that there are SO many types of assistive technology out there, some that you would never believe and some that can be made by you, me or your neighbour just by implementing an idea.

Here is a video shown on Youtube about assistive technology:

It explains what assistive technology is and where it is used. Have a squizz!

Tutorial Eight
Focuses on a piece of assistive equipment introduced in class. There was a whole range of equipment shown by Star Mobility and Disability Centre Hamilton. A lot of them were for assistive devices within the class room, ranging from key boards to mouses to timers and voice recording prompters. I have chosen to focus on something that wasn't shown in class. I think it is an amazing piece of equipment that can be adapted depending on the setting. I have chosen to focus on the Dragon NaturallySpeaking within a spinal cord injury setting.

The Dragon NaturallySpeaking is a piece of software installed on the computer, used with a headset, designed with speech recognition enabling an individual to interact with the computer just by using their voice. This is particularly appropriate in a spinal cord injury setting where individuals experience limited rang of motion in their hands and are unable to use a standard keyboard.

It allows the individual to access Word processing documents, the Internet, check their emails, interact with family and friends even faster than someone without a disability.

Each client with spinal cord injury goes through their own variation of progress; therefore the degree of independence will be diverse amongst clients (Blackwell et al, 2001).

Dependant on the spinal cord level many muscle groups and primary movements can be affected (Atchison & Dirette, 2007).

Rankin (2010) explains that using a standard keyboard after the injury is no longer possible due to the paralysis and restriction of movement.

Rankin (2010, p.13) also says "when an individual is in hospital for months, the ability to communicate with friends and family back home and to keep in contact with the outside world, is invaluable."

Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11 Premium (the latest, and the most appropriate) is priced around $280NZD with the exchange rate and a third party headset can be purchased from any good store such as Noel Leemings or Dicksmith for around $50.00.

Don Oliver was diagnosed with MS 40 years ago. Here is his story and journey with Dragon NaturallySpeaking

What an amazing application for Don, and others in a wheelchair with limited function.

Check out the tutorial below...

As you can see, someone with limited range of motion would thrive on using this in their daily lives, which is why I think it is an amazing assistive device for those with Spinal Cord Injuries and many more!

That wraps up the last post for Participation in Occupation One. I hope you have enjoyed reading it along with all the added extras.

:) Lucy

Reference List:

Atchison, B., & Dirette, D. (2007). Condition in occupational therapy: effect on occupational performance (3rd e.d.). Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Odor (1984), Rizer, Ourand, Rein (1990), Smith (1991), Vanderheiden (1987) as cited in Hussey & Cook. (1995). Assistive Technologies: Principles and practice. Missouri: Mosby Year Book.

RehabTool LLC. (2004). What's assistive technology? Retrieved from: http://www.rehabtool.com/at.html

Rankin, A. (2010). Using assistive technology to help people with spinal injuries. (No report number). Stanmore: Mark Allen Publishing Ltd.

Wii-therapy with the aged

I stumbled across this amazing video in how Wii can cater to everyone, no matter what the age. It gave me goosebumps to see the smiles on the elderly faces. Have a watch!


I decided to provide an extra insight into Wii-therapy as a side note on this technology blog.

Wii-therapy is also known as Wiihab - an uptake on Rehab.
I take an interest in Wii-therapy, having seen it work in my Mental Health placement. The video below shows Wii-therapy used in physical rehabilitation by Occupational Therapists.

Firstly, a short video of Wii-therapy in Detroit.