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Assistive Technology Center at Spaulding
The Spaulding Rehabilitation Network Assistive Technology Center is located at the Boston Outpatient Center at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.
In the past decade, advances in computer technology and materials science have revolutionized the field of assistive and adaptive technologies. Assistive technologies can open new worlds for individuals with physical, communication, and cognitive limitations.
Technologies can help someone who is learning to live with a new disability compensate for his or her limitations. A new technology may also help someone with a chronic or progressive disabling condition maintain or improve his or her independence.
At the Assistive Technology Center in Boston, dedicated and experienced clinicians in physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and neuropsychology provide assessments, demonstrations, and trial sessions with different types of assistive technologies.
Some of the assistive technologies available for trial sessions include:
Alternative Computer Access
People who are unable to use a standard keyboard or mouse due to physical, visual, or cognitive limitations may be able to operate a computer with alternative computer access technologies such as voice recognition, adaptive keyboards, a specialized mouse, or assistive software.
Assisted Memory and Information Processing
Electronic memory aids can benefit outpatients following brain injury, as well as individuals with dementia or other forms of memory loss. Small portable computing devices such as PDAs and smart phones can successfully aid individuals with memory loss.
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is a set of strategies and methods to assist people who are unable to meet their communication needs through speech or writing. AAC strategies may include low-tech options (such as letter boards or communication books) or high technology devices that produce speech. These devices can be customized to meet the individual's communication needs at home, at school, at work, and in the community.
Electronic Aids to Daily Living
People who have difficulty using their arms and hands to control objects during everyday activities can gain control through remote switches to remotely operate household appliances and devices such as TV, stereo, lights, call bell devices, door openers, and thermostats.
Repetitive Strain Injury can make it difficult to use a standard computer set-up. Many people with wrist, shoulder, or neck pain may benefit from using ergonomic keyboards and mice, and from workstation modifications and body mechanics education.
Mobility, Seating and Positioning
Wheelchair users may gain further independence through advanced wheelchair technologies. Some people may require modifications to a manual wheelchair; others may need a power wheelchair controlled by a joystick or a specialized switch, activated by sip and puff, tongue touch, or head movement.
Wheelchair users who have difficulty sitting upright, or who have postural abnormalities, may also benefit from customized seating and positioning systems. The systems use modified back supports, seating components, and tilt or recline features to meet an individual's needs. The systems are designed so that users can achieve the best possible posture and can improve their performance of everyday activities.
Visual assistive technologies cover the gamut from devices designed for the blind and those with severely limited vision to technologies that help enlarge type or improve contrast. (See "Alternative Computer Access" above).