Assistive Technology for Spinal Cord Injury: Types and Benefits

Assistive Technology for Spinal Cord Injury

Assistive technology helps or assists people with disabilities in living a better life and reducing the burden of the disorder. Most people suffer from spinal cord injuries caused by falls, crashes, and road accidents.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 250,000 people suffer from spinal cord injuries globally every year. Among these, around 90% of cases are due to traumatic causes.

About the Technology

If you are suffering from spinal cord injury, you may benefit from using assistive equipment or technology to get back to your routine. Assistive technologies help people with spinal cord injuries with communication, mobility, impaired hand movements, etc.

Who Needs Assistive Technology?

People suffering from a spinal cord injury may face difficulty using a phone, computer, or even writing.

Healthcare professionals recommend devices such as speech generating equipment, augmentative communication devices, and others. These assistive technologies would help a patient with a spinal cord injury to operate computers and other devices at school, home, work, and other regular activities.

After an injury, people who deal with impaired spinal cord function often find hand movements and operating other controls at home or office challenging. Assistive technology would help the patients independently operate the television, adjust  bed settings, and use other controls associated with everyday activities.

Why Is Assistive Technology Required for Spinal Cord Injury Patients?

Any individual suffering from spinal cord injury has the right to live an independent and quality  life. Due to this medical condition, the patient may experience several limitations. Thus, assistive technologies allow patients suffering from spinal cord injury to live life independently, using various devices such as transfer equipment, self-care equipment, mobility devices, hospital beds, environment control devices, and sports equipment.

The healthcare professional would guide you regarding the proper choice of assistive technology, depending on your needs. If you feel like your spinal cord injury is stopping you from living a free life, you should immediately contact your healthcare professional and figure out the kind of assistive technology that’s best suited to your needs.

What Are the Different Types of Assistive Technology?

There are a variety of devices that can be used for patients suffering from spinal cord injury. Some of the types of assistive technologies that can be useful for spinal cord injury patients are listed below:

  • Mobility devices: There are devices such as canes, crutches, wheelchairs, adapted shoes, and walkers that can significantly improve your mobility. Also, there are a few adaptive tools that can help you drive a vehicle with ease.
  • Hospital beds: These beds can help you get up and down from the bed easily. Hospital beds are also comfortable and protect your skin.
  • Transfer equipment: This type of equipment can help you and the caregiver move your body from one place to another. These include lifts, benches, and transfer boards.
  • Positioning devices: These devices help you position your body comfortably and prevent skin and muscle problems. Some standard positioning devices are splints, braces, cushions, backrests, and others.
  • Respiratory equipment: Some of the respiratory equipment used to help spinal cord injury patients are continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices, ventilators, and others. These devices help in breathing and suctioning.
  • Self-care tools: These types of devices would help you carry out your self-care tasks such as bladder and bowel care, personal grooming, menstrual care, eating, dressing, and exercising efficiently. These self-care tools include a shower bench, dressing stick, shower commode, and reaching devices.
  • Environmental control devices: These help you control the operation around you at home and office, such as turning the lights on, opening and closing the doors, answering the phone, closing and opening the windows, and others.
  • Recreational equipment: These would help you to perform various types of sports activities such as water sports, archery, biking, climbing, and others.
Assistive Technology for Spinal Cord Injury: Types and Benefits

What Are the Benefits of Assistive Technology for Spinal Cord Injury Patients?

Assistive technologies help to make your daily life easier. They are used to ensure an individual’s normal functioning, independence in movement and enhance their overall well-being. Additionally, other benefits of the use of assistive technology include:

  • Helps to manage potential risks
  • Delay early entry into hospitals and care centers
  • Promotes independence
  • Improves the quality of life
  • Facilitates memory

What Are Some Risks That Assistive Technology Can Help Evade?

Assistive technology is used to improve the life of the patient and helps them overcome risks such as:

  • Falls: The use of wearable devices such as smartphones, sensors, and others helps caregivers keep a check on their patients and avoid accidents.
  • Wandering: Advances in communication, monitoring, sensing, and computing techniques enable the patients to walk safely.
  • Health issues: Critical health issues, if not handled immediately, may cause death. Wearable devices can help the caregiver keep track of the patient’s health concerns and provide medication as and when required.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Some of the common home modifications recommended to ensure the patient’s proper movement with assistive technology is:

  • Installation of  stair lifts
  • Dimensions of the handles, switches, telephones, sink, and others should be as per the guidelines
  • Enlarging  the doorways or using automatic doors
  • Installing ceiling hoists

What type of training is required for the families and the care providers?

Depending on the devices and their technology, the family and caregivers should be trained about:

  • How the device works
  • Programming of the device
  • Learn to fix minor problems in the device
  • Integrate the device into the patient’s daily activities
  • Regular maintenance of the device

What is the role of an assistive technology specialist?

An assistive technology specialist understands the patients’ concerns and needs and recommends appropriate assistive technology to become independent. The role of an assistive technology specialist is as below:

  • Respond to the support requested
  • Facilitate the assessment of appropriate technology
  • Acquire the assistive technology
  • Provide training to the concerned members

Which assessment would the healthcare professionals recommend for the diagnosis of spinal cord injury?

Healthcare professionals would recommend a neurological assessment for the appropriate diagnosis of spinal cord injury.

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