New Technology and Occupational Therapy
Technology is revolutionizing how seniors receive and practice occupational therapy.Many seniors want and need to do daily activities to care for themselves. Unfortunately, due to complications that develop with age, performing once effortless actions become challenging. Occupational therapy at skilled nursing facilities and skilled nursing hospitals helps seniors learn how to do household chores, groom themselves, engage in hobbies, and enjoy social activities. As we celebrate Occupational Therapy Month, we recognize the efforts and dedication occupational therapists show in their service delivery. With this in mind, let’s explore some technologies that help Occupational Therapists and facilities get seniors back on their feet.
AppsDexteria is an app that promotes hand dexterity and fine motor skills for users working on hand movement and use. The app provides hand exercises that a senior can practice in the comfort of their homes. Dexteria also an excellent way to build hand activity required for handwriting. Some activities include tapping, stretching, pinching, gripping, and writing. The exercises slowly build up in complexity and encourage the learner to push their hand motion further and exercise precision in their hand movements. Seniors using this app regain their writing abilities and improve their overall ability to hold items, cook, and use devices alone. Using Dexteria is a fun way to extend rehab therapy beyond the skilled nursing facility and improve skills at home. After gaining the basic motor skills, Piano Tiles is an excellent tool to practice coordination and accuracy. Piano Tiles is a game that requires the player to tap the tile going down the screen to “play the piano.” As the game progresses, the tiles’ speed increases, which means that the player needs to use more strength and focus. Visual training apps are also great for seniors. The Eye Movement Training app provides items on a screen for a person to track visually. It’s a great exercise for an elderly person training their vision. Cognition apps such as Rehab Coach are excellent for patients recovering from a stroke. The app offers memory, math, literacy, and drawing activities to help a patient make a slow recovery, even at home.
Video GamesSpatial reasoning helps a person manipulate 2-D and 3-D objects. For seniors, practicing spatial reasoning helps them understand location and dimensions better. Activities such as wearing shoes correctly, buttoning a shirt, navigating the surrounding environment, and assembling household items need a reasonable understanding of the items, dimensions, and locations. Video games help seniors practice spatial reasoning without leaving their homes. Simple driving games, for instance, are a great way to improve spatial reasoning and hand motion.
Visual AidsVisual aids have come a long way from basic glasses, especially to assist the elderly in the tech world. OrCam MyEye 2.0 is a game-changer for seniors. It’s a small computer that’s attached to glasses. Users enjoy assistive reading capabilities such as magnification to read text better. The device also has a scanner for text and barcodes. The text-speech output is excellent for clients struggling to read. Seniors can use OrCam MyEye 2.0 to improve reading, enjoy entertainment, read menus, ingredients and generally improve the quality of senior living.
Hearing Assistive TechnologiesUnfortunately, turning up the volume is simply not enough for seniors with difficulty in hearing. There are several assistive devices in the market for seniors with hearing challenges.
- Hypersound Clear Speakers: These speakers amplify the volume and send a narrow sound beam that a person in the listening zone can pick up. The speakers also improve the clarity and help your senior listen without the need for headphones. Hypersound clear speakers are great for any home to help seniors watch their favorite shows, listen to playlists and enjoy video calls with the family.
- CaptionCall Amplified Phone: For seniors with hearing challenges, a standard phone is stressful and sometimes impossible to use. CaptionCall improves phone calls by using voice recognition technology that creates captions on a large screen. The user can then read the words and respond.
Virtual Assistant TechnologyVirtual assistants such as the Alexa® and the Google Assistant® have become part of our daily lives. The Amazon Echo and Google Home speakers help seniors connect with virtual assistants that recognize the user’s voice and perform actions. Smart speakers are flexible and connect with different devices such as mobile phones, tablets, and televisions. Your senior can use virtual assistant technologies to play music, games, favorite shows, and control other smart devices without moving around or asking for assistance. You can also schedule rehab therapy for your senior, and when a reminder comes up, the VA voices the reminder to your loved one.
Robotics and ComputerizationSeniors with mobility restrictions need rehabilitation to help them regain strength and mobility in their legs. New equipment used in rehab therapy now incorporates computerization to improve therapy.
- New innovations in rehab has given birth to tools such as TheraSuit. The suit helps a senior learn how to move correctly. When wearing the suit, users develop correct reflexes and reduce the pressure on the muscles and tendons. Therasuit also helps with balance and coordination, over time, helps users build bone density.
- Another notable innovation in rehab is the AMADEO System. This robotic equipment helps seniors regain hand control and movement. Skilled staff can control the equipment through software to meet an individual’s needs. The AMADEO System stimulates hand motion such as grasping to improve sensory skills, reduce spasticity and improve sensitivity.
- Lokomat is another innovation in rehab that is improving the quality of Occupational Therapy in skilled nursing facilities. Lokomat encapsulates the legs and mimics leg motion and the pelvis’s movement to help seniors improve their walking. As the robots are in motion, they transfer the weight from one leg to another. Over time, the staff can adjust the weight through a computerized system to build resilience.