The term "assistive technology" refers to any piece of equipment that helps the disabled move, communicate or otherwise function in their daily lives. Because traumatic brain injury patients can be disabled in any number of ways, including physically, mentally and/or emotionally, assistive technology for TBI can aid patients in:
- talking (or otherwise communicating)
- walking (or otherwise moving around)
Types of Assistive Technology for TBI
Assistive technology can come in many different forms, ranging from simple, homemade devices like indoor ramps to complex electronic equipment like voice recognition programs. Some of the most popular types of assistive technology for TBI include:
- Braille readers and embossers
- computer-related equipment and programs, including screen readers (that read aloud the words on a computer screen) and personalized keyboards
- motorized wheelchairs
- sip-and-puff systems, devices a TBI patient can control through inhalations and exhalations
- vision aides, including glasses, contacts and special computer monitors
Finding the Right Assistive Technology
While assistive technology for TBI can help patients monumentally, it's important that patients get the right type of aid and equipment to help them overcome their specific challenges.
For example, although a mild traumatic brain injury patient may only need a hearing aid and new glasses, those with moderate to severe TBI may likely require motorized wheelchairs and other assistive technology to help them live as independently as possible.
Here are some tips that can help traumatic brain injury patients find the most appropriate assistive technology for their specific situation:
- Opt for comfortable, functional, and simple AT: The whole point of using assistive technology is to improve quality of life. Make sure that any assistive technology you choose is easy-to-use and can successfully get the job you need done. Similarly, think about any associated maintenance or repairs: shy away from any AT that will be more work than help.
- Test devices: If possible, give assistive technology devices a test run in your day-to-day life. Using assistive technology in your daily life, outside of a clinical setting, will give you a better idea of how helpful these devices will actually be.
- Work with a team: The complicated nature of TBI's effects usually means that patients will be dealing with more than one permanent disability. Finding a specialist to help with each TBI complication will ensure that you are getting the best treatment and assistive technologies. Another benefit to working with a team is that family and medical professionals alike can generate more ideas and alternatives for assistive technology for TBI.