Humans love to figure out solutions to problems and many engineers, scientists and average, everyday people have taken on the task of developing equipment and tools that simplify the lives of people with disabilities. No hands? No problem. That's the beauty of assistive technology. With all of the advances in technology, what's available for people with spinal cord injuries is quite astounding. While there is no cure for spinal cord injury yet, much of what people cannot do can be overcome thanks to various forms of assistive technology.
For quadriplegics, assistive technology is particularly important. With limited arm or hand movement, it is much more difficult getting around in this world. From communication devices to environmental control, assistive technology for people with higher level spinal cord injuries is indispensable. This improved independence means people do not have to rely so much on families or caregivers for help in certain areas of their lives.
Whether you're a quadriplegic or paraplegic, having a cell phone on you at all times is a must. For many people, having an intercom system to see who is at the door is a great way to improve safety in the home, especially if you're in bed alone. Technology that uses the web cam on your computer can be used to monitor your environment, and let people know how you're doing.
They are also hundreds of phone apps helping people with disabilities become more independent. Here is a great list of some of the best apps for living with paralysis from the Florida Spinal Cord Injury Resource Center.
Assistive technology available for the home is really exciting these days. Environmental control refers to any device that helps a person manage their living environment. People with SCI can control many aspects of their home without lifting a finger:
If opening doors in your home is difficult, you can get a door opener installed in your own home with switches placed throughout your home. Some insurance plans will cover this expense because it's a personal safety issue. You can even put your curtains on an automated system so they can be controlled with a remote control.
One of the most common assistive technologies people with spinal cord injuries use is some kind of voice-dictation system for operating their computer. By speaking into your computer (having a desk-mounted microphone is another good idea for quadriplegics) you can control your entire computer. An eye-tracking system for using the mouse is another exciting technology that is now available. This uses the webcam already on your computer, and is controlled by moving your head and eyes.
One of the most popular voice-dictation systems available is called Dragon Dictate. This is a great program, but it is a bit expensive. Try using the built-in voice-dictation system in Windows first. Many people like this program and find that it works quite well, meaning they aren’t spending money on an additional program.
Watch the video below on assistive technology options and remember, read the Takeaway Points below. Assistive technology for every area of life exists. If you need help doing anything, an assistive tech is out there.