Assistive technology is a broad term that can refer to any aid that assists a function or action. Aids can be basic, such as a grab rail or cutlery, through to very complex equipment involving sensitive computer programs and multiple function options. The advances in computer technologies and programming means that many aids that were previously for disability have become more mainstream, which has lowered the cost and increased availability. iPads and apps are a good example of this.
Assistive technology devices can be best understood by the support they provide: personal safety, self-care, communication, memory cuing, mobility, environmental access, leisure participation, and work tasks. Knowledge of the range of aids available helps to identify the most suitable selection. However, a good assessment will also ensure consideration has been given to the interaction of the aid within the environment and the needs of the individual or their care givers.
When purchasing an aid, consideration should also be given to change in needs of the individual and the capacity of the technologies to be modified or adapted to changes in need. The cheapest or simplest aid is not always the most cost-effective over time. Trials before purchase of aids is recommended so that the individual can ensure there is benefit across the course of a day or several days, as often fatigue and weakness impact on function.
Assistive technologies can promote participation, and improve quality of life. MSWA Occupational Therapists are able to provide information, assessment, and training for individuals who require assistive technologies.