Archive for category Assistive Technology
A study conducted by the Occupational Therapy in Mental Health journal revealed that 63% of subjects using a wieghted blanket reported lower anxiety and 78% preferred the weighted blanket as a calming modality than other options provided.
Weighted blankets have been found to provide comfort for many people, including people with anxiety, autism, ADHD, sensory processing disorder, PTSD, and insomnia. The comfort comes from the power of “deep touch pressure stimulation” that has been shown to increase serotonin and melatonin. These hormones are responsible for the feelings associated with relaxation, while decreasing cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress.
What’s special about The Gravity Blanket?
Although there are many weighted blanket options out there, Gravity makes a point to go beyond functionality and put additional focus on the look and feel of the blanket. Their products look more like luxury lifestyle pieces than therapy items. Their website offers a small selection of items; each with the simple and sleek design that they have come to be known for.
Gravity also has a partnership with the sleep and meditation app, Calm. The two wellness brands teamed up for a limited availability offer known as The Dream Package. The package combines a Calm-branded Gravity Blanket and a year’s subscription to the Calm app.
To learn more about The Gravity Blanket, look at the other products they offer, or compare to the Harkla Blanket that we’ve previously blogged about, you can find their website at gravityblankets.com.
People with vision impairment who are also Google Maps users are in for a nice surprise! Starting October 10, which was also World Sight Day, Google announced a new update to Google Maps that will provide more detailed voice guidance and verbal announcements while walking from point A to point B.
This feature will provide a lot more confidence to blind people while navigating busy streets and areas. While walking, Google Maps will proactively tell the user if they are on the correct route, the direction the person is walking in, distance from the next turn, etc. If a person misses their turn, Google Maps will announce that it is re-routing the person. Through this detailed voice guidance, people with vision impairment can not only navigate in a “screen free” way with ease, they can also explore places they have not been to before.
Currently, this feature is rolled out in the US and Japan in English and Japanese respectively on iOS and Android. Roll out for other languages is on the way.
Watch the following video to learn more about voice guidance in maps.
Detailed voice guidance can be turned on by going to Settings, Navigation (under walking Options)
[Abstract] A systematic review of personal smart technologies used to improve outcomes in adults with acquired brain injuries
This review aimed to determine the effectiveness of personal smart technologies on outcomes in adults with acquired brain injury.
A systematic literature search was conducted on 30 May 2019. Twelve electronic databases, grey literature databases, PROSPERO, reference list and author citations were searched.
Randomised controlled trials were included if personal smart technology was used to improve independence, goal attainment/function, fatigue or quality of life in adults with acquired brain injury. Data were extracted using a bespoke form and the TIDieR checklist. Studies were graded using the PEDro scale to assess quality of reporting. Meta-analysis was conducted across four studies.
Six studies met the inclusion criteria, generating a total of 244 participants. All studies were of high quality (PEDro ⩾ 6). Interventions included personal digital assistant, smartphone app, mobile phone messaging, Neuropage and an iPad. Reporting of intervention tailoring for individual needs was inconsistent. All studies measured goal attainment/function but none measured independence or fatigue. One study (n = 42) reported a significant increase in memory-specific goal attainment (p = 0.0001) and retrospective memory function (p = 0.042) in favour of the intervention. Another study (n = 8) reported a significant increase in social participation in favour of the intervention (p = 0.01). However, our meta-analyses found no significant effect of personal smart technology on goal attainment, cognitive or psychological function.
[Dissertation] New Technologies for On-Demand Hand Rehabilitation in the Living Environment after Neurologic Injury – Full Text PDF
High-dosage rehabilitation therapy enhances neuroplasticity and motor recovery after neurologic injuries such as stroke and spinal cord injury. The optimal exercise dosage necessary to promote upper extremity (UE) recovery is unknown. However, occupational and physical therapy sessions are currently orders of magnitude too low to optimally drive recovery. Taking therapy outside of the clinic and into the living environment using sensing and computer technologies is attractive because it could result in a more cost efficient and effective way to extend therapy dosage. This dissertation developed innovative wearable sensing algorithms and a novel robotic system to enhance hand rehabilitation. We used these technologies to provide on-demand exercise in the living environment in ways not previously achieved, as well as to gain new insights into UE use and recovery after neurologic injuries.
Currently, the standard-of-practice for wearable sensing of UE movement after stroke is bimanual wrist accelerometry. While this approach has been validated as a way to monitor amount of UE activity, and has been shown to be correlated with clinical assessments, it is unclear what new information can be obtained with it. We developed two new kinematic metrics of movement quality obtainable from bimanual wrist accelerometry. Using data from stroke survivors, we applied principal component analysis to show that these metrics encode unique information compared to that typically carried by conventional clinical assessments. We presented these results in a new graphical format that facilitates the identification of limb use asymmetries.
Wrist accelerometry has the limitation that it cannot isolate functional use of the hand. Previously, we had developed a sensing system, the Manumeter, that quantifies finger movement by sensing magnetic field changes induced by movement of a ring worn on the finger, using a magnetometer array worn at the wrist. We developed, optimized, and validated a calibration-free algorithm, the “HAND” algorithm, for real-time counting of isolated, functional hand movements with the Manumeter. Using data from a robotic wrist simulator, unimpaired volunteers and stroke survivors, we showed that HAND counted movements with ~85% accuracy, missing mainly smaller, slower movements. We also showed that HAND counts correlated strongly with clinical assessments of hand function, indicating validity across a range of hand impairment levels.
To date, there have been few attempts to increase hand use and recovery of individuals with a stroke by providing real-time feedback from wearable sensors. We used HAND and the Manumeter to perform a first-of-its-kind randomized controlled trial of the effect of real-time hand movement feedback on hand use and recovery after chronic stroke. We found that real-time feedback on hand movement was ineffective in increasing hand use intensity and improving hand function. We also showed for the first time the non-linear relationship between hand capacity, measured in the laboratory, and actual hand use, measured at-home. Even people with a moderate level of clinical hand function exhibit very low hand use at home.
Finally, the challenge of improving hand function for people with moderate to severe injuries highlights the need for novel approaches to rehabilitation. One emerging technique is regenerative rehabilitation, in which regenerative therapies, such as stem cell engraftment, are coupled with intensive rehabilitation. In collaboration with the Department of Veteran Affairs Gordon Mansfield Spinal Cord Injury Translational Collaborative Consortium, we developed a robot for promoting on-demand, hand rehabilitation in a non-human primate model of hemiparetic spinal cord injury that is being used to synergize hand rehabilitation with novel regenerative therapies. Using an innovative bimanual manipulation paradigm, we show that subjects engaged with the device at a similar rate before and after injury across a range of hand impairment severity. We also demonstrate that we could shape relative use of the arm and increase the number of exercise repetitions per reward by changing parameters of the robot. We then evaluated how the peak grip force that the subjects applied to the robot decreased after SCI, demonstrating that it can serve as a potential marker of recovery.
These developments provide a foundation for future work in technologies for therapeutic movement rehabilitation in the living environment by establishing: 1) new metrics of upper extremity movement quality; 2) a validated algorithm for achieving a “pedometer for the hand” using wearable magnetometry; 3) a negative clinical trial result on the therapeutic effect of real-time hand feedback after stroke, which begs the question of what can be improved in future trials; 4) the nonlinear relationship between hand movement ability and at-home use, supporting the concept of learned non-use; and 5) the first example of robotic regenerative rehabilitation.
Ischemic strokes — wherein “blood flow to the brain is blocked” — account for roughly 87 percent of all strokes.
Stroke can cause significant injury to the brain that may result in many long-term problems.
For example, communication, concentration, memory, and executive function, as well as spatial awareness, are all cognitive functions that may be impacted by stroke.
Stroke can also trigger mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, as well as movement and coordination problems, paralysis, difficulties swallowing, visual impairment, and urinary incontinence and loss of bowel control.
The faster a person is treated after stroke, the more likely they are to recover from it. Surveys have shown that people who “arrived at the emergency room within 3 hours” of their first symptoms of stroke had “less disability” 3 months later than those who were treated later.
While some people recover quickly from stroke, others may need long-term support. Apps are available to help aid the stroke recovery process. They can help you or your loved one to track appointments and medications, provide language therapy, train the brain, and even lower some risk factors for future strokes.
Medical News Today have selected the top 10 apps to assist with stroke recovery.
Keep track of schedules with a shared color-coded calendar and set reminders for yourself or other family members so that medical appointments and medications are not missed.
Shopping and to-do lists can also be shared with everyone in the family to ensure that you have everything you need from the grocery store. All items added to lists are viewable instantly in real-time.
According to the app, mistakes with medicine use and dosage tracking result in 50 percent of individuals not taking medication as prescribed, 700,000 hospital visits, 125,000 deaths each year, and 44 in every 100 prescriptions not being collected from the pharmacy.
Whether you are taking one drug dose or multiple doses each day, it can be challenging to remember to take the right pill at the right time. Medisafe takes the stress out of having to remember if you or your loved one took their medications correctly.
Stop, Breathe & Think
Stop, Breathe & Think is a meditation and mindfulness app that helps to decrease stress and anxiety. The app provides guided meditations, breathing exercises, and yoga and acupressure videos to help you check in with your emotions.
Stop, Breathe & Think says that taking a few minutes every day to feel calm is just as important as getting frequent exercise and will reduce stress and promote peace of mind.
7 Minute Workout Challenge
If you are unsure of how to start an exercise routine after stroke, the 7 Minute Workout Challenge app could be the perfect app for you. The 7-minute workout is a research-backed exercise program that has become a hit internationally.
Scientists have put together 12 exercises to perform for 30 seconds each with a rest period of 10 seconds in-between. The exercise sequences are easy to do, require no equipment, and can be done anywhere.
Language Therapy 4-in-1
Language Therapy 4-in-1 is a scientifically proven speech therapy app that aims to improve speaking, listening, reading, and writing in those with aphasia. Get started by giving their free version, Language Therapy Lite, a try today.
Research led by the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom found that using the app for 20 minutes each day for 4 weeks showed improvements in all study participants with chronic aphasia.
Android: Free trial
iPhone: Free trial
With more than 65 task categories, 100,000 exercises, and 10 levels of difficulty, Constant Therapy can help to improve cognition, memory, speech, language, reading, and comprehension skills.
Constant Therapy was developed by scientists at Boston University in Massachusetts and is recommended by neurologists, speech language pathologists, and occupational therapists. Research published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience showed a significant improvement in standardized tests for stroke survivors after using Constant Therapy.
VocalEyes is computer vision for the visually impaired. The app uses machine learning to help people with vision problems identify objects in their everyday lives. Take a photo, and the app will tell you what the camera sees.
VocalEyes’s audio response describes scenes and environments, identifies objects, label logos, and brands, reads text, detects faces, classifies emotions, recognizes ages, and distinguishes currency denominations.
If your vision is impaired after stroke or you have simply forgotten your glasses, the app can zoom in on labels and nutritional information in a grocery store and menus in dark restaurants as well as help you see how much to pay on the bill after eating out.
Glasses is simple to use. Double tapping quickly zooms in or out by 6x, while swiping uses a slow and continuous zoom method. If you have shaky hands, you can tap and hold to freeze the image on screen.
Elevate is a brain-training app that is designed to enhance speaking abilities, processing speed, focus, and memory. Elevate provides a personalized training program that adapts in difficulty over time to ensure you are always challenged.
Elevate features more than 40 games aimed at improving your skills, plus a workout calendar that tracks your streaks to keep you motivated. Users who train with Elevate at least three times each week have reported considerable gains in abilities and increased confidence.
Peak features a personal brain trainer, known as Coach, who selects the perfect workouts for you at the correct time. Choose your training exercises from Coach’s recommendations to challenge yourself and stay motivated by tracking your progress with in-depth insights.
Free games challenge your attention, memory, problem-solving skills, mental agility, coordination, emotional control, language, and creativity. Upgrade to Pro for additional features.
We all like to live as independently as possible, and for disabled people, technology and apps are an invaluable aid to achieving this. It seems that everyone nowadays owns a smartphone and tablet, and with that comes a seemingly unlimited world of apps to choose from. But which should you consider and how could they enhance your life?
Here, our writers Carrie Aimes and Emma Purcell round up the top 10 apps for disabled people and why you should try them out, all updated for 2019.
AccessAble is a UK accessible travel app that takes the chance out of going out for disabled people. The app contains 75,000 detailed access guides telling you how accessible a venue, tourist attraction or public place is for your needs.
You can use the app’s accessibility symbols to filter results and places that suit you. For example, if you enjoy shopping and you’re a wheelchair user, you would search for a shopping centre that has wheelchair access, Blue Badge parking, step-free access, ramps, lifts and accessible toilets.
There is also accessibility information for people with other mobility issues, sensory impairments and intellectual disabilities. Moreover, you can check out photographs of a venue and save access guides for later.
Dragon Anywhere app
This dictation app enables you to create and edit documents of any length on your phone, tablet or laptop, all using your voice. By simply speaking into the device you can create text messages, compose emails and edit long documents, and then sync them with your Dropbox or cloud so they can be accessed on your computer.
The Dragon Anywhere app is aimed at busy professionals needing to work while commuting. But it has obvious benefits for disabled people too. Apple iPhone and Andriod users can download it for free, but after a trial, you’ll have to pay (£9.99 a month and £99.99 a year).
Our tech writer Tom Housden has tried out this app, along with some of Dragon’s other dictation apps. See his article on dictation apps for a full breakdown of how it works and what else is on offer.
Changing Places Toilet Finder app
No matter what your disability, being able to reach an accessible public toilet in good time is a daily challenge. The free Changing Places Toilet Finder app, from the RADAR Key company, lists thousands of accessible toilets across the UK.
It is a comprehensive guide of more than 1,000 Changing Places toilets, which are extra-large toilets with changing facilities. The app shows you how far you are from one of the toilets, how to get there, the opening hours of the toilet, how to open the door, whether it is normally locked and information regarding hoists and slings.
This app is a communication aid for people who are non-verbal or have a speech impairment. You can create a profile containing the spoken actions most useful to any situation, such as a specific event, travelling, working, education, socialising, plus much more, and suited for your day-to-day life. In addition, for people with reduced dexterity, there are a big Yes/No buttons.
This app is available in multiple languages and includes an emergency contact and location request services if you were to be in danger or go missing. HelpTalk can only be downloaded on Google Play.
Disabled Motoring app
Disabled Motoring UK is a campaigning charity and magazine that aims to make life easier for disabled drivers, passengers and Blue Badge holders. Its app allows you to find accredited disabled parking, get help refuelling your vehicle and browse information on Blue Badges, as well as the latest news from the charity.
The app is free to download on iOS and Android devices but, for a fee, there are additional benefits you can sign up for. Becoming an online member will give you access to the members’ area on its website, as well as a monthly newsletter.
Alternatively, you can become a full/associate member and receive the monthly magazine and discounts on everyday goods, from groceries to holidays. It’ll also enable you to get help with motoring-related problems, such as parking tickets and local authority issues. The full/associate membership will cost £24 a year.
The Physiotherapy Exercises app contains more than 1,000 images illustrating 600 exercises suitable for those with spinal cord injury and neurological conditions. Search, select and save exercises for future reference and even suggest others if you wish.
UPDATE 2019: The developer of this app needs to update it to work with iOS 11.
Red Panic button app
To be able to immediately and urgently notify a number of contacts of your whereabouts can be hugely beneficial if you’re disabled. If you’re older, have learning disabilities, or live on your own but rely on others, you might want to consider the Red Panic Button.
One tap of the red button sends alerts to your contacts via text, email, Facebook and Twitter. All you need to do is enter the details of those you wish to alert ahead of using the app, and they will receive a Google Maps link with your location.
Many features are free to both Android and iOS users, though there is the option to upgrade at a fee, which means you can even send a photo attachment and record a 10-second voice message with your alert. Gain more independence and security with this handy and easy to use Red Panic Button app by visiting iTunes or Google Play.
Be My Eyes app
This award-winning app allows people who are blind or visually impaired to request help from a sighted volunteer. You can receive assistance through a live video connection to a global network of volunteers who can assist you with a range of tasks.
The sighted volunteers will receive a notification on their phone when you ask for assistance. As soon as the first volunteer accepts the request, a live video link will be connected to you and the sighted volunteer.
You can then use your rear-facing camera to allow the sighted volunteer to see the item or subject you need assistance with or descriptions of. Support can be as simple as checking expiry dates or more complicated tasks such as navigating a public place.
Have You Heard
Designed for people with hearing impairments, this app will amplify voices around you so that you can better understand conversations with people in busy and loud places, such as with a friend in a restaurant or a colleague in a meeting.
You can focus on conversations either close by or further away by using the ‘focus near/far’ feature, and adjust the volume to suit you. If you still haven’t quite heard something, you can replay the last 20 seconds of a conversation at the press of a button.
To use it, you’ll need to connect a headphone to your phone. It’s free and only available on iTunes for iPhone users.
UPDATE 2019: The developer of this app needs to update it to work with iOS 11.
Uber taxis app
Having a disability means that public transport often isn’t an option, leaving you to rely on taxis. To stop you getting stranded, you can download the Uber app, allowing you to request a taxi ride from where you are using your phone.
To do so, simply create an account with your card or PayPal – no cash required – and select a vehicle to suit your needs. If you do want to plan ahead, the Scheduled Rides feature allows you to book a vehicle up to 30 days in advance.
Uber has two services aimed at helping disabled passengers get around. Its uberACCESS taxis are equipped with a rear-entry ramp and four-point restraints, enabling wheelchair users to ride safely and comfortably with one additional passenger. Its other accessible service, uberASSIST, is designed for those who don’t need a wheelchair-accessible vehicle, but require additional assistance on their journey.
All uberACCESS and uberASSIST partners have received Disability Equality Training from Transport for All and Inclusion London, and both cost the same as using uberX, one of Uber’s lowest-cost services.
UberACCESS (previously called uberWAV) is available in London, Manchester and Birmingham, and uberASSIST is available in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, and Sheffield. There are plans to roll out both into other areas soon.
By Carrie Aimes and Emma Purcell
- Disability dating sites: we round up the best
- Assistive technology: 5 of the coolest gadgets
- Designer limbs: the top pimped-up prothetics
[WEB PAGE] Pioneering rehabilitation app helps physios track patients’ progress and prescribe exercise videos
Independent physiotherapy provider Ascenti has launched PhysioNow, a new exercise and rehabilitation app which aims to revolutionise the way musculoskeletal injury is treated by providing patients with physiotherapy services at the touch of a button.
PhysioNow supports users throughout their journey to recovery by providing 24/7 access to expert advice through digital triage, virtual consultations and tailored exercise programmes from approved Ascenti clinicians. Users can book appointments directly through the app and try out exercises in their own home, with access to guided videos that can be downloaded and viewed at any time.
A fully integrated digital care solution, the app will benefit patients by allowing them to track their own progress and compliance with their rehabilitation programme, improve their knowledge and empowerment through education and self-management advice, and increase their confidence knowing they are following the correct exercise prescription.
PhysioNow is fully integrated with Ascenti’s bespoke patient workflow system. This means that physiotherapists can prescribe video exercises, track patient progress and adjust according to real-time patient feedback, all within the same system that supports them in all other aspects of their daily role (from writing treatment notes to accessing clinical dairies).
For patients, this means a digitally enhanced and hassle-free journey, whether their treatment is face-to-face or virtual.
Currently, a third of all musculoskeletal referrals Ascenti receives come from patients suffering with back pain. PhysioNow will enable enhanced clinical outcomes and more cost-effective care, including for common conditions such as back pain.
A beta test version of the app launched earlier this year and has been used by 1,400 patients, with 93 percent of users endorsing the app and saying that they would recommend it to friends and family.
The PhysioNow app is available to all Ascenti patients and will be accessible when they book their first physio appointment.
Additionally, the app will be available to download from the App Store for Apple iOS users and the Play Store for android devices. There will also be a web-based service that people can use at physionow.ascenti.co.uk
Stephanie Dobrikova, CEO at Ascenti, commented: “The launch of PhysioNow makes Ascenti the market leader when it comes to the provision of digitally-enabled physiotherapy and musculoskeletal (MSK) services.
“In today’s healthcare industry we are seeing more and more technological advances that are transforming patient care – improving the experience of clinicians and service users alike.
“Our Digital Health Strategy has placed us at the forefront of these advancements and our mission is to keep bringing the very best digitally enabled services to our patients and partners.”
Ascenti is a provider of physiotherapy and associated services in the UK and is a trusted partner to more than 20 NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups and 400 private businesses across the UK.
The company has over 300 highly trained clinicians delivering upwards of 52,000 treatment sessions every month.
‘Digital physiotherapy’ is now available to back-pain sufferers – even if they are on a train, at work or abroad. The smartphone app provides 24/7 virtual consultations with experts, downloadable exercise videos and rehabilitation plans created by experts.
All information is developed by health professionals approved by a company called Ascenti, which is the leading provider of physiotherapists to the NHS. Users can also use the app, called PhysioNow, to book private and NHS-funded sessions with trained clinicians.
About two-thirds of Britons are said to suffer back pain at some time in their lives, with musculoskeletal problems accounting for a third of all GP appointments.
A test version of the app launched earlier this year. It has been downloaded by 1,400 patients.
A test version of the app launched earlier this year. It has been downloaded by 1,400 patients