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The Role of Assistive Technology in Occupational Therapy

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Technology has become a vital part of our daily life.

Now we can’t think Medical industry without technological involvement.

Technological integration in medical science makes treatment options more promising and result-driven.

Assistive Technology” is one of the most helpful technologies for Rehab care therapists, specifically for occupational therapists (OT).

As an Occupational therapist, you intend to provide treatment that offers more independent living to patients with disabilities at home, at educational organization, or at the office. Assistive technology makes your job easy, even it can accelerate your therapy directly and indirectly.

Assistive technology helps OTs in many ways, such as:

  • Evaluation of patients’ actual need
  • Allows OTs to choose an appropriate device that resonates with the patients’ actual objectives
  • Provide adequate support to the patients in their rehabilitative care training

Stay with us till the end to get complete information about “Assistive Technology.”

Offering assistive technology-based devices is a crucial part of the occupational therapy intervention to support patients, enhance their performance in daily life, and encourage their participation in different activities.  Thus, Occupational therapists follow some evaluation methods in their therapeutic process to fulfill each patient’s activity demands, then they recommend an assistive device.

You can consider a tool as an assistive device if it increases, maintains, and improves patients’ functional abilities.

Assistive technology ranges from very simple to highly complex, but its sole purpose is to improve a person’s ability to complete their daily task and help him to achieve functional independence.

Presently, different types of assistive devices are available in the market, but every device has its own objective. You can make an accurate recommendation after observing and evaluating your patient’s requirements and considering his present abilities.

Types of assistive technology

As earlier we said, various types of assistive technologies are available, but all aren’t the same.

Therefore, we can categorize them based on level of engagement & “Practicality-Cost effectiveness.”

Let’s first talk about the distinction based on level of engagement:

Active-client assistive technology: This technology demands the active engagement of the patient. It means the patient needs to take some action to operate the technology.

The common examples are operating Voice-recognition software, Eye-gaze system, or other rehabilitative applications present in smartphone or tablet devices.

Passive-client assistive technology:  This technology doesn’t demand conscious interaction from patients. Common examples are Fall-detection systems and movement-activated lighting.

Next, assistive technologies based on Practicality-Cost effectiveness:

Stand-alone technology: It requires only one-time set-up, and then it will continue to work in a determined way.  You can consider it as a cost-effective long-term option.

Examples: Specialized kitchen utensils, Speaking clock. 

Support-service associated technology: It must be linked to the patient or support system. Here the patient needs to communicate first to initiate its functionality.

Telehealth or telecare systems are a typical example of support-service linked technologies.

List of assistive technologies that can be recommended by Occupational therapists to their patients

Here we list down assistive technologies that you can include in your occupational therapy treatment, such as:

  1. Alexa
  2. Fall detection system
  3. Mobility aids like Crutches, prosthetic devices
  4. Hand/ Grab rails placed in the appropriate position of the home/ workplace
  5. Voice-recognition software
  6. Electrical devices that boost cognition and function as aids to memory
  7. Customized cooking equipment,
  8. Eye-gaze systems

All of the above are famous assistive technologies in rehab care because of their effectiveness.

It is difficult to talk about all of them in a single article. However, we’ll cover Alexa and Fall-detection assistive technology here.

Alexa:

It is a virtual personal assistant made with the help of assistive technology.

It is placed in a smart speaker and comes after voice commands to perform instructed tasks for its owner. Recently Google and Apple also launched their own version of Alexa.

You can use Alexa in your occupational therapy program in the form of telecare and communication devices to enhance and improve your practice.

Alexa has the following features.

Alarm, calendar request, call function, control function, internet access. All these integrated features add convenience to your occupational therapy and make your patients’ everyday life less challenging. Again, Alexa comes with the additional downloadable app named “Skill” that allows personalized rehabilitative programs to be activated.

Fall-detection assistive technology

Fall detection is the Artificial Intelligence based assistive technology widely used in occupational therapy.

Fall -detection is specially made for elderly people with disabilities. It is developed to provide them in-place safety, prevent falls, and even early detection of falls. The AI-based fall detection assistive technology detects the patient’s fall with multiple sensors and automatically alerts the caregivers and family members (whose name is being installed).  Some fall detection devices can also prevent falls by detecting the probable danger around the patients.

Early fall detection and prevention safeguard your patients from accidental injuries. So, you can Definity include fall-detection assistive technology in your therapeutic intervention.

Technology has enormous application in occupational therapy. Assistive technology is just an example of innovative technology.

Now you can make your Occupational therapy engaging with the help of the latest technologies like virtual reality, augmentation reality, and Gamification.

One such effective Gamified tech product is Squegg; The Digital Grip strengthener.

It is very different than a conventional hand strengthener because of its unique features. It helps you to measure and track patients’ grip strength. On the other hand, its in-built games make hand therapy exercises exciting for patients.

So, try the Squegg digital grip strengthener to make your occupational therapy more engaging!

References:

  1. Is Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) Technology or Robot OTs A Threat to Occupational Therapy Jobs?- By OTDUDE  (https://www.otdude.com/editorial-opinion/is-artificial-intelligence-a-threat-to-occupational-therapy-jobs/)
  2. A professional’s guide to assistive technology- By The OTPractice (https://www.theotpractice.co.uk/news/our-experts-blog/professionals-guide-to-assistive-technology)
  3. Assistive Technology in Occupational Therapy-By Intechopen (https://www.intechopen.com/chapters/55355)

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