Assistive technology is an important focus of research for the TAC – our clients’ quality of life can be vastly improved by advances in technology. The following includes a summary of recent research conducted by ISCRR relating to assistive technology.
Review of current and emerging assistive technologies for reduction of care attendant hours: cost effectiveness, decision making tools and emerging practices
Assistive technologies have the potential to enhance the independence of people with brain and spinal cord injuries. A review of the evidence of effectiveness of these technologies was commissioned, particularly focused on the ability of assistive technologies to reduce attendance care requirements and increase quality of life. The review identified 33 technologies that were available in 2011 however there was a lack of scientific published evidence of the effectiveness of the technologies for reducing attendant care requirements. As such, clinical effectiveness in this regard could not be established at the time.
Using technology in supported accommodation
This project aims to build an evidence base of current assistive and mainstream technology use in Victorian Shared Supported Accommodation (beyond those funded by the TAC). A targeted evaluation of technology used in these settings will be undertaken from the perspectives of residents who use these technologies each day, as well as house managers. Gaps and opportunities in technology practice that influence cost of care and resident outcomes will be identified for potential application with TAC clients. Evidence of technology effectiveness in meeting resident needs will be reported, informing scheme practices.
Disability and driving: vehicle modifications
This study aimed to provide a stronger evidence base for the future improvement of vehicle modification prescriptions for drivers with disabilities. The study involved a survey of drivers who regularly used vehicle modifications to understand how they used their vehicles, a literature review of prescription issues, and a study tour to learn from other jurisdictions about their approaches and guidelines. Victoria’s Occupational Therapy Driving Assessors were also engaged to redevelop guidelines around assessing the need for vehicle modifications for drivers with disabilities. As a result of the research, a draft model of practice and set of prescription guidelines were developed.
Steady-state visual evoked potential-based brain computer interface
This study developed a brain-computer interface typewriter able to be integrated into a tablet to allow quadriplegic patients with no hand movement to communicate. The interface converts naturally generated responses from localised brain sources as a result of visual stimulation to communication. The designed methodology (hardware and software) is suitable for implementation on tablet computers, making the system largely inexpensive, portable, and user friendly. Testing of the system resulted in improvements in speed and accuracy, and increasing suitability for other applications.
Google Calendar: using technology to increase independence in traumatic brain injury survivors
Memory loss is common following traumatic brain injury and affects the independence of the person with a traumatic brain injury in doing daily tasks. While traditional strategies such as diaries and lists have proven to be helpful, they are passive in nature. This study examined the feasibility of using Google Calendar to prompt recall of everyday tasks in people with cognitive dysfunction after traumatic brain injury. This study also evaluated clinician use and acceptability of the Google Calendar as an intervention in the Australian community-based rehabilitation setting.