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Assistive Technology for Spinal Cord Injury Patients

The Rehab Technology Center provides assistive technology services, which includes augmentative communications, computer access, electronic aids to daily living, and independent living services to patients with spinal cord injuries.

Evaluations are focused on the patient, the family, and the caregivers. Specially trained therapists and technicians consider all of the spinal cord injury patient’s medical and functional needs. We use trial situations along with demonstration equipment to ensure that recommendations meet the unique needs of each patient.

Spinal Cord Injury Augmentative Communication

Patients with a spinal cord injury who have a limited ability to communicate or interact, no matter what their age, may benefit from an augmentative communication device. Augmentative communication is a system, other than writing, that allows an individual to make thoughts and needs known. These systems range from low technology, such as custom-made picture boards, to high technology, such as computer-based systems. Speech language pathologists and occupational therapists help the patient, family, school staff, and others determine how to best meet each individual’s communication needs.

Augmentative communication services include: evaluations and documentation of need; equipment trials; insurance prior authorization and funding source assistance; and equipment setup, training, and customization.

Computer Access for Spinal Cord Injury Patients

Computer access may help individuals with spinal cord injury who use, or could benefit from, computers or technology devices for completing personal, educational or job-related tasks. Computer access can help spinal cord injury patients with memory and planning skills, improve personal efficiency, enhance writing skills, compensate for vision limitations, and enable persons using wheelchairs to access computer work stations.

To begin, a computer evaluation is completed to identify specific technology solutions or modifications that will enhance lost or limited physical, cognitive, or visual skills. A computer or computer-related device (palm devices, digital recorders, screen readers, among others) can offer significant functional gains for many spinal cord injury patients. Staff will also handle insurance authorization, or help with identifying funding sources then coordinate the equipment purchase. Knowledgeable engineering and therapy staff will customize the equipment, as needed, deliver and set up the equipment, and train the patient in its use.

Electronic Aids to Daily Living (EADL) for Spinal Cord Injury Patients

Persons with spinal cord injury who have limited hand function or fine motor skills, and persons concerned with safety when left alone and requiring a reliable means to call for assistance may find EADLs helpful to every day living. EADLs are devices that allow spinal cord injury patients enhanced personal independence in their home, school, and work environments. Devices include emergency call devices, door opening systems, sip/puff or switch-operated telephones, remote-control lights or fans, and remote-control audio systems. These devices may operate by infrared signals, radio frequency, Wi-Fi, or voice control.

Rehab Technology staff will complete an evaluation, assist with equipment trials at Mary Free Bed or in the patient's home; handle insurance authorization or identify funding sources; coordinate the equipment purchase; customize and set up the equipment; and train the patient in its use.

Contact the Rehab Technology Center at Mary Free Bed

616.242.0342 or 800.211.4813


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