Through analyzing the impact of assistive devices for two participants with cerebral palsy much has been learned for each individual what works well for them.
As both participants used felt tipped metal rods or “head-sticks” for use on computers and tablet devices with touch screens two alternative methods were used to test greater efficiency and ease for the participants. The two methods that were tested were an altered felt tipped glove that was used on the participants hands and fingertips, and a Brian control interface that was used with a computer.
In terms of the felt tipped gloves, they did not provide a great enough improvement for the participants in order for them to be used ordinarily. The “head-sticks” provided equal to better help and the participants are more comfortable with how they work as they are more used to them.
Due to difficulties in acquiring a Brain Control Interface there was limited time that the device could be tested.
In terms of the Brain control interface the results are inconclusive thus far. The time that would be needed for the participants to completely be comfortable with the device requires longer than the program will allow for. The Brain control interface has had some improvement with one of the participants, but requires much more practice and understanding in both participants in order to attain more concrete results.
Ultimately the decisions to alter the assistive devices that each participant currently uses and to implement a new assistive device such as the Brain control interface remain entirely up to the participants and what they feel comfortable with.
Observational data increases to aid in the development of ideas for assistive devices for adults with disabilities. The weekly meetings with Participant A and Participant B were paused during the end of December and the beginning of January.
Based on the minimal changes that have been made in order to test assistive devices, gloves with felt tip fingers and gloves with modified felt tip knuckles have been implemented for Participant B.
Participant B is very excited about trying new things and is very helpful at communicating how the assistive device could be modified in order to better aid. The use of gloves with felt tip fingers did work to a certain degree, but did not benefit Participant B more than the assistive device that is currently used, the “heat-stick.” With trying the knuckles of the glove it was though that there would be greater ease in touching the screen. The knuckle use did work more beneficially, but did still not aid more than the currently used device. As we are currently waiting for the BCI (Brain Control Interface) to be delivered, the additional uses of modified gloves have been tested. In the next week it is hoped to test the last modification, a glove with a different felt attached to the tip of the thumb. If this method does not benefit Participant B more than the current device the use of a BCI will be put into affect.
It is a great difficulty knowing how well the devices are working for Participant A. As Participant A is less comfortable with change it is sometimes difficult to try new things from week to week. There are some days that Participant A chooses not to try anything new. In these situations there is more data that is collected from observation of the current assistive device. When the BCI arrives, it is also hoped that it may be put into affect with Participant A as well.
Thus far, the research has obtained much observational research regarding the current assistive devices, the pros and cons of the devices as well as a general description of the use. It is hoped that the two Participants can be helped by the implementation of new devices. If the trial and error process takes more than this year the research will continue until it is successful.
Starting with a weekly meeting with the participants in our study there has been a great accumulation of observational data as well as analysis of alternative assistive devices. The beginnings of testing the alternative devices for the participants the minimal changes have been observed in order to determine the effectiveness of purchasing instruments for a more major change.
In progressing with observational research it has been determined that the participants A and B are on separate scales in terms of mobility and what they require in an assistive device.
Participant A is much more worried about change and is very leery to try new things, instead of what is already known in using an assistive device. The “Heads-stick” that participant A currently uses is much more effective in use with a computer than in use with a Tablet or iPad. The Metal configured device has a plastic or felt tip depending on the technology that is intended to be used. A computer uses the Plastic tip and the tablet or iPad uses the felt tip. The plan from here forward is to introduce a Brain Computer Interface (BCI) in order to create an easier use of both a Tablet or a Computer.
Participant B is very eager to try new things and is very open to change. The idea of anything that can possible aid in Participant B’s everyday life is something that is looked forward to. In the observational study of Participant B it has been seen that there is more mobility of arms and hands that can be incorporated into the search for an alternative assistive device. Trials of using gloves with felt finger tips that have been adjusted in order to fit the hands properly are currently in effect. The effectiveness at this point is still being tested as the gloves are altered every week in order to aid a little more. In the future the Brain Computer Interface (BCI) has also been considered for Participant B.
Every day there are people who face struggles due to the disabilities that they have, and in today’s world technology is a huge part of life. In Discovering Innovative Tablet Technologies and finding new assistive technologies for adults with disabilities the goal of Dr. Jean Coppola and myself, Taylor Longenberger, is to ultimately improve the lives of adults with disabilities. Our main focus is with Cerebral Palsy and the struggles faced by those with little to no mobile control of there arms and hands making it very difficult to type as well as touch a screen.
In working cooperatively with the Cerebral Palsy of Westchester facility, we have the opportunity of working with adults with Cerebral Palsy that currently use assistive devices to type on a computer and use the touch screen of a tablet. The assistive devices that our participants currently use are more commonly referred to as “headsticks,” a fitted headpiece that has a long metal rod attachment with a felt tip, and are used as an alternative “finger.” In our study we hope to find with the help of a Tech team a more comfortable and effective alternative or modification to the current assistive devices. The main goal is to learn more about the other options for assistive devices and evaluate the currently used devices.
Through a beginning observational study of the participants and the assistive devices that they use we look for the current device’s: design, limitations, benefits, and the personal likability for the participant. We will be researching and discovering the alternatives that have already been created and possible new ideas in designing an alternative fit for the participant. The process may at this point become trial and error in hopes to select the most personalized fit.
The study will shift from observational to trial and error but the main hope for our work is to create a better experience using technology for those with disabilities.