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Neuro rehab technology

Implementing technology into clinical practice

Occupational therapist Lauren Edwards shares recommendations for investing in the right technology for your practice

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Technology is fast infiltrating all areas of our lives, from devices which help around the home to apps which record our health data.

It is a natural progression that therapists are looking towards technology to enhance their clinical practice.

But with so many technologies available, what should therapists be considering when looking at the options?

Occupational therapist Lauren Edwards shares her recommendations for investing in the right technology for your practice.

1. Evidence based

Investing in equipment must enhance my clinical practice and this means that it needs to align with my theoretical underpinnings.

Research on neuroplasticity and dosage theory suggests massed practice alongside progressive intensity will bring the greatest benefits to our patients.

Equipment which enables this together with immediate feedback on performance supports the principles of motor learning.

2. Clinical application

As with any treatment plan, the outcome must transfer to enhanced function for my patients.

A clear understanding of my patient’s goals, alongside movement analysis helps to guide a prescription
for the activities which support repetition and graded intensity.

The right neurotechnology can supplement your treatment plan by providing a means for mass practice to strengthen the component movements, freeing up therapy sessions to work on whole task practice.

3. Accessibility

Whilst there are plenty of mainstream devices and apps available, technology designed for those with disability
ensures accessibility.

The equipment must be sensitive enough to register minute movements to support those with minimal ability and record improvements in ability.

It must also be intuitive enough for those with communication deficits to navigate and offer a variety of activities which allow for simple or stimulating cognitive load.

4. Usability

Engagement is crucial for a successful treatment plan. Technology which incorporates elements of gamification supports motivation to engage and progress.

Gamification elements such as progress badges, points and stars help to invoke a sense of achievement and increase motivation to continue.

Improved adherence will ensure greater commitment and ultimately better outcomes.

5. Affordability

As a business owner and practitioner, investing in large pieces of therapy equipment can be daunting. Selecting a device which can be used across multiple conditions ensures that it can be used in a variety of settings with a range of conditions and at multiple points along a person’s rehabilitation journey.

Neurotechnological innovation presents a tool to disrupt and redefine clinical practice. How we choose to move forward with (or without) technology will define our practice and shape the future of our profession.

How James is benefitting from tech in rehab

GripAble offers gamified rehabilitation technology for the upper limb that encapsulates many of the above considerations.

James’ story helps to show how implementing the right neurotechnology into clinical practice can help patients rebuild their lives.

James was recovering from a brain injury and had a moderate right hemiplegia. He wanted to be able to brush his teeth independently but was struggling with grip strength and coordinating his movement.

He lived in a rural community and had difficulty getting to a clinic. As his participation dropped off, so did his function.

GripAble’s gamified rehab instantly re-engaged James and his therapist was able to design a bespoke programme using the activities.

The sensitivity of the device in detecting subtle movement changes helped both James and his therapist track the small but important gains of his efforts.

This opened up better communication between James and his therapist as well as maintaining his motivation. His therapist was able to monitor him remotely, set new goals and intervene when his adherence dropped off.

When James was able to attend the clinic, sessions focused on task practice which saw vast improvements following his home practice.

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