Assistive technology is any device, system or design, that allows you to perform a task that you would otherwise not be able to do. It can increase the ease and safety of you performing a task and assist you in carrying out daily activities. Assistive technology is also known as aids and equipment.
Aids and Equipment
There is a wide range of equipment available to assist you in your day-to-day life and Cerebral Palsy Alliance works with people with many different disabilities to help them find the right equipment for them. This technology may be as simple as common household items such as cutlery to more complex products such as a pressure care mattress for the prevention of bed sores.
Many people with disabilities require assistive technology to do everyday activities and to promote their independence.
Our therapists can also assist with funding sources and how to apply for this.
Once equipment has been purchased, a therapist will be available to help deliver and set up the equipment and provide training and information on how you can use and maintain the equipment.
Some people with cerebral palsy need assistance to move from one position to the next, for example, from their wheelchair to their bed. Others are unable to stand so a hoist may be needed to assist them in moving around.
A range of equipment is available to help with your transfers depending on individual need and our therapists can assist you to find the transfer equipment that suits you best. Our therapists will also help train carers and family members to support you in use of the equipment.
People living with cerebral palsy may require assistance with their mobility and need to use powered mobility e.g. a powered wheelchair. Our occupational therapists and seating consultants can explore and discuss with you which powered mobility options would suit your needs.
Our therapists will also help train carers and family members to support you in use of the equipment.
Orthotics are an external support or brace worn or applied to the body e.g. hand splint, lower limb cast, neck support/brace. Some people living with disability will find that the use of othotics will aid them in walking, standing, using their hands more effectively or positioning their body more comfortably.
Our Therapists will work with you to determine what orthotics are best for you and your lifestyle.
Strollers are usually used for children under 5 living with disability and can assist in transporting your child comfortably and with ease. Their are many different strollers on the market and our Therapists will work with you to determine your child’s needs and what stroller fits with this.
After an initial assessment we either look at modifying an existing stroller using foam to make more support, or we will prescribe a specialised stroller. We can also help with funding options.
Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s Assistive Technology Services manufacture custom moulded seating and accessories for wheelchairs and other equipment. We provide services across NSW and ACT and our consultants are constantly on the road delivering equipment and providing consultations in rural and regional NSW as well as metro areas. The cost for this equipment varies depending on the needs of each client and the primary funding source is Enable NSW. Our team can help you liaise with Enable NSW with regard to funding.
Our Seating Consultants and workshop technicians will work with you to provide equipment solutions that best suit your needs. They will also help train carers and family members to support you in use of the equipment.
There is a variety of equipment available to assist people who have difficulty eating and drinking. Our Therapists work with you to determine what aids you might need to make your mealtimes easier and can also prescribe adaptive equipment.
We also sometimes adapt already existing equipment. Examples of this are cutlery with larger handles, slip resistant mats, cups with two handles. We trail equipment to make sure that it suits your needs and you are comfortable using the equipment.
The use of walking equipment can assist you by improving your balance and stability. It can also help improve your confidence in walking. There are many different types of walking aids available on the market from simple walking sticks and crutches, to walking frames that provide more substantial support.
The best walking aid is the one that meets your individual needs. Cerebral Palsy Alliance therapists work with you to identify which are the most suitable walking aids for you.
Some people with cerebral palsy are unable to stand independently. Standing frames provide support to enable people to participate in a variety of activities. Our Therapists work with you to assess which aids are the best for you and your lifestyle.
Some people with cerebral palsy require assistance with their mobility and may need to use a manual wheelchair to support them in their mobility.
Our Therapists can explore and discuss with you which wheelchair option best suits your needs. Our therapists will also help train carers and family members to support you in use of the equipment.
Alternative-Augmentative Communication (AAC) refers to a communication system that is designed to supplement or replace an individual’s speech. People who have limited or no speech or who have difficulty in understanding others typically use some or several forms of AAC. Young children who are slow to develop communication skills can also use AAC. Use of AAC will assist the individual to take part in everyday life, such as school and employment.
Examples of AAC systems are:
- Signing and gestures
- Communication Book About me, Picture dictionaries
- Daily and weekly Schedules
- Communication boards or books with pictures, objects and/ or messages
- Alphabet board
- Speech generating devices
It is very important that the individual has a device that is most suited to them. There is no “one size fits all” with AAC systems.
Our therapists can assist in selecting the most suitable AAC system by matching the individual’s skills and needs to specific features that each type of AAC system offers.
Some people worry that if their child uses AAC, especially a speech generating device, they might not learn to speak or that they might “forget” to use speech altogether. However, research studies demonstrate that children who are slow to learn to speak actually benefit from using alternative ways of communicating, such as a speech generating device. Individuals with more severe forms of cerebral palsy may simply find talking just too difficult. AAC, such as a speech generating device, will help them to communicate effectively even if they are not able speak. Our Therapists can explore and discuss with you which communication options best suits your needs.
Speech Generating Devices
There are several different types of speech generating devices. Some are very simple switches with short pre-recorded messages. Others are more highly sophisticated speech generating devices that contain options for environmental control unit, access to the web, emails and other social media.
Speech generating devices displays may include pictures or words. The devices are activated through directly touching the screen or writing a message on a keyboard. People who find this too difficult, can access the device by activating a switch that involve movement that is more functional for them, such as moving a leg or using the eyes by looking at the screen.
Speech generating devices may appear quite daunting and difficult to operate. It is very important that all family members and carers learn how to operate and maintain the device. It is equally important to encourage and support the individual to use their device regularly in their everyday life.
Our Therapists can explore and discuss with you which speech generating devices best suits your needs.
The safest way to travel in a vehicle is to sit in the standard passenger seat and use the standard vehicle restraints e.g. seat belt. However many people with cerebral palsy are not able to travel this way because they need extra support to sit up.
Our therapists can provide assessment and intervention to assist with safe travel. Our assistance may include looking at equipment that is currently used (e.g. a car seat or booster seat) or it may involve recommending of another piece of equipment.
There are many options available including specialist car seats, safety harnesses, booster seats and seat-belt covers. A therapist can help with sourcing the equipment, funding options and setting it up so it’s ready to use.
With some clients, as they get older, it can get harder to transfer them in and out of a car seat and they may need to use a wheelchair for travel. This may require a vehicle to be modified. This can be expensive and usually takes several years of planning.
Cerebral Palsy Alliance can provide you with information on what types of vehicle modifications are available and how to go about finding the right one for you and your family.
People with cerebral palsy can experience challenges with sleeping. This may be caused by pain or decreased ability to change position throughout the night for comfort. Some people find a sleep system useful. This can be commercial or customised equipment that supports the body in the best position for the individual. Our Therapists can explore and discuss with you which sleep systems best suits your needs. We look at what you currently use and suggest different ways of sleeping and/or use of the equipment and sometimes suggest a new bed, mattress or sleep system.
Many people living with a disability need assistance with everyday household tasks. Aids and equipment are available that can support you in doing everyday household tasks such as cooking, making a drink, cleaning, laundry and shopping.
Our Therapists work with you to determine the best aids that suit you and support you in doing these tasks safely and with ease.
This equipment can vary from scissors, clocks and timers, reaching and turning aids, to trays, protective clothing and trolleys and bags.
Seating and Positioning
Sitting is an essential part of all of our lives. People living with a disability can find sitting in standard chairs difficult, especially when using that chair many times a day. There are many seating aids available to help you position yourself comfortably and to make getting in and out of the chair easier.
Our Therapists work with you to determine the best seating and positioning equipment for you. These can include corner chairs, high chairs, side lyers, wedges, stools and the use of belts and harnesses.
Computer Software and Accessibility
Computers are part of our everyday life and easy access to using a computer is essential for people living with a disability. There is a variety of assistive technology available to support you in using computers including specialised keyboards, desks and workstations, mouse and joysticks, tablets and smartphones, mouthsticks and pointers, eye gaze control and touch screens.
There is also a range of mounts and switch devices that make computer access easier. Our Therapists will work with you to determine the best aids that suit you and your lifestyle.
School Chairs and Tables
Children with disability will sometimes need special aids and equipment to support them in attending school and participating in activities. Our Therapists will work with you and your child to assess what equipment you might need and what will fit best with the school environment and make accessibility easier.
Modified Gym Equipment
Keeping fit and healthy is essential for everyone but for people with disability it can be difficult to access standard gym equipment.
Our Therapy staff can work with you to identify gym equipment that will meet your needs and interests and where modified equipment can be found or purchased.
For a child with a disability, access to a switch toy can be much more than play. It can provide them with a sense of control over their environment, enable them to engage in activities enjoyed by peers and increase their confidence. The opportunity to practise the motor skills required to operate a switch can also contribute to a child’s ability to operate technology, mobility and/or communication devices in the future.
Like all toys, switch toys can be used by therapists and families to support cognitive and language development, promote motor skills and facilitate social and emotional experiences for children with disabilities. Our Therapists can recommend switch toys, refer you to a switch toy library and/or where they can be purchased.
Toileting and Bathing Aids
There is a wide range of equipment available to help you access and use the bathroom safely and with ease. Our therapists work with you to assess what equipment is best for you and can include toilet aids, rails, bath mats, shower seats, commodes and change tables.
Switches and Mounting
There is a range of switches and mounting equipment available which support people living with a disability use a variety of electronic devices and other equipment in their everyday tasks. Using the right switch and/or mounting device is important for ergonomics, visibility and accuracy of access as well as to prevent damage to the device from being dropped. Our therapists work with you to assess what equipment is best for you and where this can be purchased.
To find out more or to book an appointment give us a call on 1300 888 378.
TechnoTalk is a quarterly publication providing information and reviews on assistive technology for access to computers, voice output communication, environmental control systems, seating and powered mobility.