Assistive Tech Apps Uplifting Lives of Children with Cerebral PalsyJune 10, 2020 No Comments
Featured article by Sally Writes, Independent Technology Author
At present, more than 500,000 U.S. children under the age of 18 are living with cerebral palsy (CP). Although physical therapy, rehabilitation, orthotic devices such as braces splints, and casts are among the most common treatments for CP, the use of assistive technology is becoming increasingly prevalent. We are fortunate enough to live in an age where technological advancements happen at break-neck speed, much to the benefit of both CP patients and their families. Not only is assistive technologies making it easier for children to communicate, but it has also improved the mobility of countless children with limited use of their legs tremendously.
Communication technology can benefit the entire family
Electronic communication boards are among the most commonplace assistive communication technologies currently used. These devices give children with CP the opportunity to communicate by selecting letters, numbers, words, and pictures to convey a message. Many children can also benefit from speech-generating devices that will transform a child’s typed messages or tapped words and images into speech. Even an everyday smartphone or PC can fulfill the role of assistive technology when loaded with useful apps and access to informative websites. Online communities, such as the Cerebral Palsy Family Network provide much-needed support to the families of children with cerebral palsy. Networks such as these are known to offer everything from educational and emotional support to financial assistance.
Mobility technology opens countless doors
Each child with cerebral palsy experiences varying complications and symptoms. While some children may be able to walk without any assistance, others may require support or are unable to walk altogether. Electric wheelchairs are among the most common mobility-enhancing assistive technologies and are a great help to children who have limited use of their arms as they are controlled with an easy-to-use joystick or button. Reputable brands including Forcemech and Pride Mobility are constantly improving their technologies to render their wheelchairs increasingly comfortable and efficient. Other assistive technologies that facilitate improved mobility include stairlifts and power scooters.
Functional Electrical Stimulation holds great promise
Many children with cerebral palsy are benefiting from an exciting technology known as Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES). The treatment makes use of a small device that delivers electrical impulses to various muscle groups with the aim of stimulating them. The impulses activate the nerves in the muscles, causing the muscles to move and enjoy improved functionality. Although this type of treatment will not be beneficial to all children with CP, it has been found to improve muscle strength, range of motion, ankle and foot positioning, and gait. It is especially helpful to children with spastic cerebral palsy as it allows them to walk easier and with significantly less pain.
Assistive technologies can have a huge impact on the quality of life of a child with cerebral palsy. Considering the rate at which technology is constantly evolving, it is impossible to not get excited about what the future may hold for young CP warriors.DIGITAL HEALTH