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Occupational empowerment through Assistive Technology

Occupational Therapy is a health profession that can specialise in the prescription of Assistive Technology (AT) (sometimes known as equipment) for individuals.

Occupational Therapists can specialise in prescribing AT, as they have the fundamental skills of assessing a person and the environment around them, physically, socially and mentally. This information helps OT’s determine what AT can empower or enhance functioning in these environments.

The Occupational Therapist works closely with a person, to collaborate with an equipment supplier to find the best solution for the person health and functional needs.

Assistive Technology can commonly include:

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  • Showering and toileting equipment
  • Specialised bedding and mattresses
  • Kitchen aids
  • Dressing aids
  • Vehicle Modifications
  • Lifting and hoisting equipment
  • Wheelchairs and seating systems
  • Powered mobility options
  • Sensory equipment
  • Home Automation systems (Door and blind openers, adaptive TV controls, etc.)

As we can see, AT can be incredibly broad in types, as well as applications, making the potential for outcomes quite extensive! It’s quite important for an OT to take the time to get to know a person, and learn about what their goals are, and what they want to achieve by utilising AT to help and enhance their life.

A good example of this, working with a young man, who required a powered wheelchair to independently mobilise his rural environment. The OT learned about what the environment meant to him (cattle work on the family farm). The young man also really enjoyed playing video games. The OT was able to work with a supplier to script a wheelchair that met his needs. The wheelchair had 4WD function, could look after his skin for long periods of time, and had a PlayStation controller to drive the wheelchair! This helped him drive due to reduce fine motor control and felt like playing video games in real life. The young man now works with his family on the farm but is also safe to do this in dedicated equipment that fits.

Sometimes, solutions with AT can be achieved very complex and custom equipment, sometimes through simpler, yet specific equipment to the person and environment.

By taking the time to learn about the person, we can see that we can achieve outcomes, that work for a person’s clinical and health needs, but also fit into who they are as a person, their roles and their identity.

National 360 has a large number of therapists specialising in, or commonly working with AT, available to visit in the home or the community to assess a person’s needs. National 360 takes a multidisciplinary approach to AT and lots of support with Physiotherapists, Speech Pathologists, Behavioural Support Practitioners and Occupational Therapists to provide unique AT solutions for people.

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