People with cerebral palsy can often benefit from assistive technology. According to the Assistive Technology Industry Association, Assistive Technology (AT) is “any item, piece of equipment, software program, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities.” The term covers an extremely broad range of items, from low-tech things like weighted pens to more high-tech equipment such as mouth-controlled wheelchairs. Home/vehicle modifications often fit under the umbrella of assistive technology, too.
You may have also heard the term “adaptive technology.” This refers to assistive technology designed specifically for people with disabilities (things people without disabilities would probably not have a reason to use). For example, a braille printer would be a form of adaptive technology.
The following are some examples of assistive/adaptive technologies that people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities may use in their day-to-day lives. Please note that this list is in no way exhaustive.
Assistive Technologies for Eating and Food Prep:
- Bowls and Plates that suction to the table and are shaped to help people with muscular limitations eat.
- Cups that help to minimize spills.
- Curved Utensils designed for people with limited dexterity.
- Universal Cuffs to hold various types of utensils.
- Swedish Cutting Boards to help those with limited hand function to hold and cut foods safely.
- Ergonomic Bottle and Jar Openers to help those with limited hand function open food containers.
- Glass Washer Brushes to wash with the use of only one hand.
- Pan Holders to assist with single-handed cooking.
Assistive Technologies for Bedrooms:
- Specialty Switches, which allow people to turn devices on-and-off without using their hands.
- Door Knob Extender Handles to make turning door knobs easier.
- Bed Rails to 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 to prevent falls on wet and/or slippery surfaces.
- Walk-in Tubs to prevent falls on entering and leaving a bathtub.
- Scrub Brushes to help those with limited reach wash their bodies.
Assistive Technologies for Transportation:
- Gait Trainers to help those with support needs learn how to walk.
- Standing Wheelchairs to allow people who cannot stand or walk on their own to move around in an upright position.
- Car Caddies to help those with minor disabilities enter or exit a vehicle.
- Accessible Vans with wheelchair ramps.
- Adaptive Steering Systems to allow people to drive without the full use of their hands.
Assistive Technologies for Communications:
- Braille Displays which enable the blind to communicate.
- Screen Readers which read aloud the text on a screen to those with vision impairments.
- Typing Aids, which are are keyboards with larger text on them.
- Teletype Phones and Telecommunication Devices for the Deaf allow people to communicate over the phone with typing.
- Dedicated Speech Devices that can read aloud messages written by nonverbal people.
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.
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- Technological Aids for Cerebral Palsy: Augmentative and Alternative Communication
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- Assistive Technology Industry Association: What is AT?
- EnableMart Assistive Technology
- Housing and Assistive Technology, Inc.: Design Solutions for Independent Living
- Boundless Assistive Technology
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