Enhancing technology to improve brain injury rehab was the focus of the latest Brainwaves session on Thursday 28 February, presented by Keith Norman from Steve Wiseman Associates Ltd who are specialist IT consultants.
Keith revealed some of the latest developments revolutionizing the field to an audience of professionals working in brain injury rehabilitation who gathered at the free training session at Hollinwood Business Centre in Oldham.
Clients with a wide range of conditions and brain injuries can benefit from technology, including people with a spinal injury or polytrauma who have retained their cognitive abilities, and people with traumatic brain injury, who may difficulty with functioning, memory, behaviour or even fluctuating consciousness.
In particular, technology can benefit people who have visual impairments, communication difficulties, physical and learning disabilities, or any combination of these issues.
Increased need for access to technology
Keith first explained the increasing range of reasons for referral from a client with a brain injury, including the need for physical access to technology, such as switches, eye gaze and voice control; cognitive access to technology; cognitive rehab including planning, memory and executive function; and to enable access to social media. Clients may also need technology to enable them to access environmental controls and education.Enabling client ‘input’ and access to ‘output’
Keith also outlined the two key elements of using technology for rehab – to enable ‘input’ by the client, and to access the ‘output’ required. For example, to enable the client to ‘input’ they may need device mounting options, adjustable desks and seating, switches, and special keyboards which provide shortcuts, are onscreen, or have large keys. They could also use an adapted mouse, trackballs, trackpads and joysticks for pointer control, touch screens for taps, swipes, gestures, as well as voice control and eye-gaze.
In order to access ‘output’, Keith explained that a range of technology is available for clients such as using bigger screens, magnifiers, large or bold text, vibration, text or visual notifications for sound, subtitles and captioning, voiceover or a narrator, and Braille display.
The session concluded with a Q&A with the audience who asked Keith about how technology could enhance their own practices, and shared examples of their experiences with clients.
Colin Green, Clinical Director at Physio Matters said: “This was a fascinating insight in to a rapidly growing area that can have a significant impact on clients’ lives. Keith gave some excellent examples of how technology can enhance and improve access to everyday activities that many of us take for granted, but which can make a real difference to someone with a brain injury and improve their quality of life and ability to interact.”
Brainwaves was formed by Colin Green of Physio Matters Neurological Ltd and Louise Sheffield of Active Case Management Ltd to provide interdisciplinary training sessions for professionals working in brain injury rehabilitation. Sessions are free and held every 2 months at Hollinwood Business Centre in Oldham.
Open to therapists, case managers, social workers, support workers, lawyers and anyone working in the field of acquired brain injury, Brainwaves shares informal clinical training. This covers clinical topics such as HCPC audit process, insight after brain injury, serial casting, hydrotherapy, and many more.
The next free Brainwaves event is on Thursday 27 June with Sian Riley, Dietitian at Red Pepper Nutrition, and will explore ‘Food for the Brain’. The session will run from 11:00am – 12:30pm.
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