The iPad revolution
Using technology to aid in stroke recovery
StrokeConnections spoke to Southern Health speech pathologists Gabrielle Writer and Jaime Cosham share with us their thoughts on iPads as rehabilitation tools. Please note though, Gabrielle and Jaime say this is not the most suitable communication device for everyone. They recommend a speech pathology assessment before making an investment as iPads are not a “onesize- fits-all” piece of equipment.
How can iPads be used as a device for communication for stroke survivors?
iPads can be a fantastic option as a communication device. They are light weight and portable, affordable and very ‘in’ right now, making them socially acceptable. They allow non-verbal communication via email or messenger applications (‘apps’) for people who can write and spell. An app is a computer program that is downloaded onto your iPad or smart phone.
There are a large number of alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) apps available, ranging in cost from completely free to several hundreds of dollars. There is a variety of types of AAC apps, for example picture or symbol-based, where a word or phrase is spoken when a picture is selected; text to talk where the person writes or types in a word or phrase to be spoken, and combinations of both.
What role can they play in therapy?
Specific therapy apps can be used in individual and group therapy, and used for extensive home practice. Suitable apps can be used to provide the person with auditory and/or visual feedback, enable self-monitoring and measure progress.
There are a variety of great apps therapists can use: for rating/measurement improvements, as a fluency rater, sound level meter for measuring volume of voice, etc.
How have you found stroke survivors respond to using an iPad?
Many love it and have found the technology of the iPad itself quite easy to pick up, even if they have not had a lot of ‘technology’ experience. Feedback from clients has included that the iPad is ‘motivating’ and ‘enjoyable to use’. We have had reports of increased family involvement in a client’s home therapy practice, as all the grandchildren wanted to be involved with the iPad!
On the other hand, there are some people who have had difficulty using the touch screen aspect of the iPad due to problems with manual dexterity/ dyspraxia.
Kingston CRC client Margaret using the iPad with Southern Health Speech Pathologist Jaime Cosham.
Will they be accessible enough? Is the price restrictive?
The price is reasonable compared with other communication technology. There can be issues with the process of using iTunes for accessing and downloading the apps. The user definitely needs to have some degree of computer know-how and access to WiFi or another computer for this, or a support person who can assist them.
There is such a huge array of apps and this can be overwhelming and confusing. Again there needs to be someone with knowledge and experience involved to find suitable apps.
What are the benefits of this technology?
It can be modified to continue to meet each person’s needs if their condition changes It may enable increased social “connectedness” with email, video calling and access to the internet.
Other features are available to assist in activities of daily living include a calendar, alarm clock, daily reminder lists, calculator, and it can provide portable entertainment (music, videos, games, photos etc).