Madonna's Rehabilitation Engineering Program serves patients who have deficits caused by stroke, brain injury, spinal cord injury or other neurological conditions by identifying assistive technology for greater independence in their home, work, school and community environments.
What is Assistive Technology?
Assistive technology (AT) describes things like equipment, software or other devices that help a patient increase their level of independence. That includes areas like augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), seating and mobility and environmental control.
Occupational, physical and speech therapists who have completed specialized training and education provide evaluations and prescriptions to identify solutions using various equipment and technology that maximize the patient's ability to perform daily tasks with the highest level of independence and improve their quality of life.
AAC refers to technology called speech generating devices (SGDs) and strategies that enable non-speaking individuals to communicate. Using the latest in AAC technology and intervention strategies, specially trained speech-language pathologists provide AAC evaluations and treatments for children and adults with complex communication needs.
Collaborative evaluations and treatments with specially trained occupational and physical therapists are also available when needed to optimize positioning for access to AAC technology. AAC evaluations include training, trials of technology and strategies and assistance with acquiring funding for recommended technology.
AT specialists work with people to increase their ability to operate a computer for work, school or home following disabilities that limit their mobility or muscle function.
An evaluation is completed to identify a person’s individual needs, goals and functional capacity. The therapist creates a customized computer set up for the individual that allows the greatest level of independence with computer tasks. A variety of AT solutions are available to reach a person’s goals with computer access such as switches, keyboard modifications, voice activation, eye gaze, head tracking and other keyboard access devices.
Electronic aids to daily living, or EADLs, provide people with disabilities a means to control telephones, televisions and other audio visual devices, lamps, lights, small appliances and attendant call systems.
The AT specialists evaluate each patient’s individual needs and desires to independently control electronic devices in their environment using their functional abilities. The therapist can provide custom modifications to software, electronics and other appliances to promote independence and safety in their environment.
Mobile Device Technology
People recovering from significant illnesses and life-changing conditions frequently report that they want to be able to access their mobile technology devices. Madonna’s assistive technology program focuses on designing strategies and identifying equipment that will enable people to access mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets.
Smart technology offers a myriad of opportunities for people to access their environments. By integrating the power of mobile smart technology into the recovery process each patient’s ability to interact with the world is maximized. That includes the hundreds of thousands of apps available, many of which can be used as tools for improving a person’s quality of life. Research and education form the foundation of Madonna’s assistive technology program in order to allow the professionals to keep pace with the constantly changing and advancing technological world.
Wheelchair seating and positioning
It is important for individuals who use a wheelchair to have the right equipment both in terms of fit and utility. Individuals may be scheduled for a comprehensive seating and positioning assessment on an inpatient or outpatient basis. This service, which involves a two-hour session with the patient, one or more specially trained therapists and an equipment vendor, results in a prescription for the most appropriate wheelchair, cushion and control system for the individual.
Madonna uses an electronic pressure mapping system to create the perfect fit for each individual. When the patient sits on the special pressure pad, a computer program graphically outlines the pressure areas. This helps therapists identify appropriate equipment and cushions to form the least amount of pressure areas for the individual and promote optimal skin integrity.