We are in the age of technology. We would have a hard time just making it through the day without technology and how it assists us in our daily tasks.
Assistive technology is just the applied use of technology. Eye glasses and contacts, remote controls, wheel chairs, cordless phones, hearing aides, e-mail, TTY phones, closed captioning TV are just a few examples of how we employ technology to make our daily functioning easier.
As therapists, we are concerned with functioning in life roles. The tasks that can easily be taken for granted by many individuals (using a phone, TV, dressing, cooking, eating, walking, talking, driving a car...etc.) can also be suddenly disrupted by fate.
St. Ambrose is proud to have a practical assistive technology program. Without a large budget, OT students and faculty supply the community with long-term loans of equipment ranging from simple tilt boxes to environment controls. If a patient is to stick with a piece of technology it should address their specific needs and not just what is available. Also, this can be much less expensive. The total amount of material in our environmental control units is less than $500. Our total hip warning boxes have less than four dollars of materials.
If we limit ourselves to just what is available off the shelf or out of a catalog then we are really just limiting how well we can help our patients.
At St. Ambrose, students gather tools and skills to use in their professional life. The greater the number of unique tools and skills a person has in their professional tool box will allow a person to help a greater variety of patients.
The St. Ambrose AT Lab is unique because we do things that haven't been done before. We manipulate and adapt everyday items and make them functional for people with disabilities of all types. We take "throw away" computers and turn them into environmental control units (ECU). We design and create our own adaptive equipment at a fraction of the cost of purchasing similar items off the shelf. We are then able to loan these items out to clients through our Lending Library.
For more information, contact Jon Turnquist OTR/L at TurnquistJonC@sau.edu.