What Is Assistive Technology?
Assistive technology describes any item, program, or system used to improve or maintain function for people with disabilities. People with cerebral palsy (CP), hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), cognitive impairments, and various birth injuries may require assistive technology to complete daily tasks. The term covers a broad range of items, from low-tech tools like weighted pens, to more high-tech equipment such as mouth-controlled wheelchairs.
“Adaptive technology” is a type of assistive technology. This term refers to items or software designed specifically for people with disabilities. People without disabilities would probably not have a reason to use adaptive technology. A braille printer would be a form of adaptive technology.
Examples of Assistive Technology
The following are some examples of assistive and adaptive technologies that people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities may use in their day-to-day lives. These tools help with eating and dressing as well as communication and transportation.
Assistive technologies in the kitchen for eating and food prep
- Bowls and plates that suction to the table and are shaped to help people with muscular limitations eat
- Cups with wide or weighted bases that minimize spills
- Curved utensils designed for people with limited dexterity to eat
- Universal cuffs hold various types of utensils
- Swedish cutting boards have a clamp to hold foods so they can be cut safely by those with limited hand function
- Ergonomic bottle and jar openers to help those with limited hand function open food containers
- Glass washer brushes can wash drinkware with the use of only one hand
- Pan holders assist with single-handed cooking
Assistive technologies for bedrooms
- Specialty switches allow people to turn devices on-and-off without using their hands
- Door knob extender handles make turning doorknobs easier
- Bed rails add support and protect from falls
- Button hooks, dressing sticks, zip grips, sock aids, and shoe horns to help with dressing
- Lamp switch adapters to make turning on lights with twist knobs easier
Assistive technologies for bathing and the bathroom
- Chairs for showering/bathing
- Hand rails for toilet to help with the transition from sitting to standing
- Potty training resources for children with special needs
- Nonslip bath mats reduce falls on wet and/or slippery surfaces
- Walk-in tubs prevent falls on entering and leaving a bathtub
- Scrub brushes wash hard to reach places
Assistive technologies for transportation
- Gait trainers support children learning how to walk
- Standing wheelchairs allow people who cannot stand or walk on their own to move around in an upright position
- Car caddies help those with minor disabilities enter or exit a vehicle
- Accessible vans can be fitted with wheelchair ramps for passengers
- Adaptive steering systems allow people to drive without the full use of their hands
Assistive technologies for communication
- Braille displays enable the blind to communicate
- Screen readers read aloud the text or elements of a website on a screen to those with vision impairments
- Typing aids feature larger text on the keys of a keyboard
- Teletype phones and telecommunication devices for the deaf allow people to communicate over the phone with typing
- Dedicated speech devices can read aloud messages written by nonverbal people
Assistive technologies for personal hygiene
- Nail Clipper Board: This nail clipper has a plastic base with suction cups that keep the base securely attached to a surface such as a counter. To clip nails, the user just needs to push down.
- Soaper Bath Sponge: This sponge has a pocket for a small bar of soap, so users can wash without having to hold slippery soap. It also has a long handle, which is useful for people with limited reach or control of only one hand.
- Hand Held Shower Spray: A handheld shower spray like this one can be useful for people who use shower chairs, and want to direct the stream of water towards them.
- Hair Washer: This can be used to apply shampoo and massage the scalp, and can be used by those with limited range of motion.
- Easy-Pull Hairbrush: This hairbrush comes with a velcro strap that can loop around the user’s hand. It is meant to be helpful to people who struggle to grasp items.
- Self-Wipe Toilet Aid: This product is designed to help people who struggle with reaching or bending to wipe themselves. It includes a rotating handle that allows toilet paper to be discarded after use.
How can I decide what types of assistive technologies I need?
In order to decide which technologies will be most helpful, you may need to consult with medical experts or other professionals. These can include family doctors, rehabilitation engineers, occupational therapists, special education teachers, speech-language pathologists, and more.
Legal help for cerebral palsy resulting from birth injuries
If your baby suffered any birth injuries and has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy or another disability, please contact our attorneys at ABC Law Centers (Reiter & Walsh, P.C.). We have numerous multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements that attest to our success, and we will fight to obtain the compensation you and your family deserve. We will evaluate your case to determine if your newborn suffered injuries due to the negligence of the physician or medical staff, and you never pay any money until we win your case.
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