“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”
Arthur C. Clarke
Technology is constantly evolving, and both existing and emerging solutions can play an important role in complementing and amplifying healthcare initiatives. There is no denying that technology is transforming the healthcare experience. At MPOT/Access Fitness we take a client-centred approach to promoting health and well-being through occupation.
The primary goal at MPOT/Access Fitness, working with organisations such as TADSA is to enable people to participate in the activities of everyday life. In particular occupational therapists achieve this outcome by working with people and communities to enhance their ability to engage in the occupations they want to, need to, or are expected to do, or by modifying the occupation or the environment to better support their occupational engagement. Occupational therapists are experts in the provision of assistive technology associated with participating in all activities of daily living.
Assistive technology refers to tools, equipment, or products that can help a person with a short or long term disability to function successfully at school, home, work, and in the community. “Assistive technologies” may be as simple as a magnifying glass to improve visual acuity or as complex as a computerised communication system.
Assistive technology enables people to overcome day to day barriers to optimal function and provide design solutions so that people can interact successfully in their environments.
The following are the most common areas for provision of assistive technology:
Communication – Computer access – Daily Living – Education and Learning – Vision and Reading – Environmental – Hearing and Listening – Mobility and transportation – Prosthetics and Orthotics – Seating and Positioning – Recreation and Leisure.
As with everything there are benefits and challenges:
Benefits of Assistive Technology Challenges of Assistive Technology
Achieve maximum independence Potential for an increase in frustration and anxiety
Increased sense of control Ineffective
Increased participation in life roles One size does NOT fit all
Increased efficiency to undertake tasks Technology overload
Provides a level of privacy and dignity Training is more than one time
Decreases caregiver burnout Carryover may not occur
Supports functional activity in a variety of It may need repairing
As you can see from the challenges listed above some technology can be ineffective and one size does not fit all; sometimes circumstances don’t allow us to use readily available technology and this is where working with TADSA is an important part of our ability to be able to provide custom made solutions for disability and aged related problems. These solutions do not need to be complex for example most recently we have been working with TADSA on the development of an automatic toilet flush for a client in a rental property which means the adaptation must be able to be removed when they move. The TADSA volunteer working with the MPOT occupational therapist has devised a lightweight adaptation which can be removed without damaging the toilet. Other solutions we have worked with TADSA on have included assistive devices for participating in sporting activities, work and daily home life. So when we find that what we are looking for is not readily commercially available or highly customised our first telephone call is to TADSA.
There are a range of funding options available for assistance with funding for assistive technology. If you have a compensation claim (work or motor vehicle) some of these costs may be covered under your claim; alternatively, you may be funded through NDIS.
*Please note this is general information and each individual will present differently.
Marilyn Pattison is a Senior Occupational Therapist and General Manager at MPOT/Access Fitness in South Australia. She is also the President of the World Federation of Occupational Therapists.
MPOT/Access Fitness’ purpose is to deliver quality medical expert, rehabilitation and injury prevention services to people with an injury (compensable or non-compensable) which effectively prevents them from functioning at their optimum level and actively participating in life’s activities.
Our primary goal is to assist people to participate to their full potential in the activities of everyday life and living. We achieve this by working with people and organisations such as TADSA to enable them to do things that will enhance their ability to participate or by modifying the environment to better support participation.