Cerebral palsy assistive technology

10 Must Have Products for Individuals with Cerebral Palsy

Like most disabilities, individuals with Cerebral Palsy (CP) have different needs and abilities. While one individual may need a device to help with communicating, another may need special writing tools designed specifically for people with muscle strength problems.

According to United Cerebral Palsy, Assistive Technology (AT) often plays a vital role in the lives of people with disabilities. AT is any item, piece of equipment, or product that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. AT has allowed accessibility for everyone. No one, regardless of their abilities, should be left feeling like they have no independence or confidence. Modern technology offers a plethora of products to assist individuals with CP on a daily basis.

There are four classifications of Cerebral Palsy. Each classification pertains to how the muscles in the body are affected. For example, individuals with Ataxic Cerebral Palsy may have very poor balance and be extremely unsteady when they walk, due to the muscles being too weak.

Depending on the type of Cerebral Palsy, the needs of AT may differ greatly. There are numerous AT products on the market available to individuals with CP.

Here are 10 assistive technology/accessibility product for individuals with Cerebral Palsy.

1. Wheelchairs

An individual with spastic CP may have difficulty in walking because of the tight muscles in the hips and legs. When both legs are affected (spastic diplegia), a wheelchair is a popular device for mobility and accessibility. At Convaid, there are a variety of wheelchairs specially designed for individuals with CP. For example, their chair with 30-fixed tilt, headrest, and h-harness are suited for someone with weak trunk muscles, and needs assistance to sit upright.

2. Adaptive Tricycle (for therapeutic cycling)

According to makers of an adaptive tricycle, therapeutic cycling can improve respiration, swallowing and the development of head and trunk control while strengthening anti-gravity muscles, improving eye-hand coordination and self-esteem.

3. Stool Scooters and Standing Equipment

Depending on your child’s life stage and ability, there are products developed for assisting with movement while promoting stability or when difficulty holding themselves in an upright position.

4. Stair Glides/Elevators and Mechanical Lifts

Stair glides and elevators are important devices to have in a home, work or school setting where there may be multiple levels. An individual with CP is often unable to walk or climb stairs with ease. With the use of a glide or elevator, an individual can travel up and down the stairs with independence, safety and ease. A mechanical lift is often helpful for transporting an individual with CP into the bathtub, wheelchair or bed.

5. Car Seats

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there are different regulations to follow when traveling with your special needs child. Depending on their disability, you may need an adaptive car seat. It is important to never adapt a car seat on your own.

6. Adapted Vehicles

Depending on the transportation needs of you and/or your child, an adapted vehicle may be an easier and much safer transportation option. For more information on Adapting Motor Vehicles for People With Disabilities, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

7. Communication Devices

Some individuals with CP have speech problems and are not able to speak due to the muscle spasms in their mouth, throat and tongue. Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) devices allow individuals the ability to communicate in different ways, specialized to their needs, such as signs, letters, pictures, and even a voice.

8. Adaptive Art Supplies

Art can be an effective and powerful form of expression, especially when a child feels limited by a disability. Because there is no right or wrong way to “do art”, individuals with CP may feel confident. Bright Hub Education suggests some excellent ways to make the process of making art more accessible. For example, a child with spastic CP may find it easier to use large markers or paint brushes, as they are easier to grip.

9. Commode and Bath Chairs

The ability to use the toilet may be very empowering for an individual with CP, however, there may need to be modifications made in order to remain safe and hygienic. Bath chairs are also helpful in providing a safe and stress-free bathing experience.

10. Writing tools

There are numerous devices to aid a student with CP in writing. For example, the Steady Write Writing Instrument is designed to improve the handwriting of individuals with shaky handwriting due to involuntary movements.

Improve Life with Accessibility products and assistive technology

Whether you are looking for ways to modify your home to make it wheelchair accessible or looking for products to make daily bath time a little bit easier, there are numerous helpful accessibility products available for individuals with CP. If you know of a product that can help individuals with cerebral palsy please share it in the comment section below.

About the Author
Adrienne Domeier is an avid blogger and freelance writer. She writes primarily in the health, social sciences, and legal fields. She strives to provide relevant and informative content to her readers. You can find her on Google+

How Assistive Tech is Breaking Communication Barriers for Children with Cerebral Palsy

It is important to recognize the health and wellness disparities that some children with disabilities face. Cerebral palsy is one of the most common of all childhood disabilities and malpractice birth injuries, and it can cause a number of complications. Among these, an important one is difficulty communicating. This can prevent a child from getting good healthcare, from socializing with peers, and from learning. Assistive technology is changing how these children communicate to help them live happier, healthier lives.

Assistive Technology for Cerebral Palsy

Assistive technology is any device, equipment, or software that helps someone perform an activity. For instance, a wheelchair or walker is an example of simple assistive technology that can help a child with cerebral palsy get from one place to another. Technology that helps with eating, breathing, using pens and pencils, reading, writing, and communicating with others is considered assistive technology and has the potential to improve communication, academic performance, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, and overall health.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Also known as AAC, augmentative and alternative communication refers to any way of communicating other than verbally speaking. AAC can be low-tech, including sign language or using pictures, but newer technologies are making AAC more practical, faster, and easier for children with physical disabilities like cerebral palsy communicate their needs and emotions:

  • Electronic communication boards and tablets help children with limited fine motor skills or speech use pictures, letters, and words on a screen to communicate.
  • Speech-generating devices use the same types of cues as communication boards but also translate them into verbal speech that other people can easily understand.
  • Eye-tracking devices help even the most severely disabled children communicate. Using just eye movements a child can select images, letters, and words to speak with others.
  • Hearing aids are always advancing technologically and can help children with cerebral palsy that have resulting hearing impairments. A cochlear implant can even bypass damaged components of the ear, improving hearing.

Benefits of Communication and Assistive Technologies

A child with cerebral palsy may have a whole range of complications, from mobility limitations to difficulty eating and breathing, to behavioral disorders. Communication aids are essential for many of these children to maintain good health as well as overall well-being. At the most basic level if they cannot communicate pain, symptoms, hunger, difficulty breathing, or thirst, their health suffers. Better communication means better health.

Beyond their basic health needs, being able to communicate allows children to participate more fully in all areas of life from school and sports to family conversations. Improving communication increases self-confidence, independence, opportunities, social skills, and so much more. Assistive technology is always evolving, and it has become an important part of the lives of nearly all children with cerebral palsy.

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Achieving classroom goals using assistive technology: perspectives from students with cerebral palsy and their parents

P Karlsson1, C Johnston2, K Barker2

1Cerebral Palsy Alliance, The University of Sydney, Allambie Heights, NSW, Australia; 2Western Sydney University, Sydney, Australia

Background and Objective(s):

The development of verbal and written expression is not only important in building a child’s self‐esteem, but is considered an essential ingredient for success in school. Therefore, the introduction of assistive technology for school aged students with cerebral palsy is often provided as a compensatory strategy for manual ability, speech and communication function difficulties. In this study students whose motor disorder limits the use of accurate hand and/or body movement or clear speech were surveyed on factors impacting on their achievement of classroom goals.

Study Design:

Cross‐sectional survey design.

Study Participants & Setting:

Materials/Methods:

Demographic information, parental report of the child’s ability to achieve classroom goals and student report of their assistive technology experience in the classroom were collected in a survey. Participants were contacted by the Cerebral Palsy Registers in New South Wales, Australia Capital Territory, South Australia and Victoria. Cerebral Palsy Registers do not hold information on assistive technology so 969 parents of school‐aged children 7–18 years, were sent study information and survey packages (including a reply‐paid envelope). An online survey option was available. Descriptive and non‐parametric statistics were used to conduct the data analysis.

Results:

The majority of the students believed that their device was helpful in the classroom (93%). However, only 48% thought it was helpful for homework. Only sixty‐four per cent reported that they had been shown how to use the device and 36% recounted that someone had involved them in the decision. The results show a strong positive correlation between the students’ ability to achieve classroom goals and whether a) they felt they were able to demonstrate their knowledge and skills to their teacher (rs=0.574, p=0.00), b) they felt that they were able to learn more easily (rs=0.390, p=0.01), and c) someone had encouraged them to use the device in the classroom (rs=0.579, p=0.00).

Conclusions/Significance:

A number of factors were reported to support the students’ ability to achieve classroom goals when using assistive technology in the classroom. Those students who reported having received support and encouragement to use the device in the classroom had better outcomes.

Assistive devices and cerebral palsy: factors influencing the use of assistive devices at home by children with cerebral palsy

Background  There is a growing awareness of the significance of gaining insights into device users’ needs in their everyday usage in order to maximize the potential of assistive device intervention. However, current studies in this field are likely to focus more upon adult users’ or adult carers’ perspectives and, accordingly, the opinions of young users seem to be overlooked. In order to take the gap into consideration, this study aimed to explore the usability of assistive devices at home by children with cerebral palsy and consider the underlying factors related to the device usage in this setting mainly from the children’s perspectives.

Methods  Semi‐structured interviews were adopted as the main data collection instrument. A total of 30 participants were involved in the study, including 15 Taiwanese children with cerebral palsy and 15 mothers.

Results  The results showed a low frequency of device use at home by the participating children. Four factors leading to low device use at home were identified, including children’s reluctance, mothers’ perspectives, physical environmental barriers and device‐related barriers.

Conclusions  The results highlight the need, when considering the usability of assistive devices, to take into account three interactive factors, namely, the personal, device and environmental factors. They also demonstrate the importance of taking children’s different developmental stages and unique personal experiences into consideration in understanding the influence of assistive device intervention for children with cerebral palsy.

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