Choosing Rehabilitation Technology for People With Brain Injury

Rehabilitation Patient with Walker

There are many straight-forward choices of technology today that can assist people with various disabilities, such as walking support, hearing enhancers, or memory aides. However, the needs of people who have disabilities related to a brain injury are far from simple. A brain injury can cause various changes in awareness, mood, or cognitive ability that contribute to how well a technology will work or be used.

Making a selection of supportive technology therefore requires careful consideration. In a recent review of the Cognitive Support Technology Predisposition Assessment tool, several decision-making factors were highlighted. The first factor that should be considered is the patient's personal expectations, personality, and mood. Questions such as "How comfortable am I emotionally, physically, and socially in using this support?" or "Will this technology contribute to my quality of life?" can help a patient decide whether or not the supportive technology is one that will be useful.

In addition, family members, friends, and employers also bring expectations to the selection of supportive technologies. Questions that should be considered include, "Will the environment of the home/workplace facilitate the use of this technology?" and "How will the use of this technology affect other people?"

The introduction of new supportive technologies needs to integrate well with technologies that are already in place. They need to be easy to access and use, and not create barriers in care or lifestyle. Follow-up after implementing a new technology is critical for assessing how well it works. Optimal use of the technology indicates that it is being used in all recommended situations with no resistance from the patient. Partial use, non-use, avoidance, or abandonment of the technology indicates that the tool is no longer useful or may be of annoyance to either the patient or the family/workplace.

Continued assessment is also important because recovery of awareness or changes in mood may alter the need for technological support. A person who was initially reluctant to use a tool at the beginning of recovery may become more open to use it over time. Other tools may become irrelevant as the person recovers abilities.

Technologies can greatly enhance the quality of life for someone who has suffered from a brain injury, but only if that person, his preferences, and lifestyle are included in the selection process.

Scherer MJ. How can we best match the person with a brain injury with the most appropriate technology support? Brain Injury Professional. (November 2012).