The Latest Technologies Every OT Should Know About

Earlier this Occupational Therapy Month, we posted about a few trends that are changing the landscape of Occupational Therapy.  New technologies are always impacting healthcare and even helping to shape new trends and treatments.  In January, the annual Consumer Electronics Show introduced hundreds of breakthrough technologies, and we have identified five of those technologies that every Occupational Therapist should know about.  These new technologies should provide inspiration and opportunities for OTs to develop better treatment plans.

Better Wearable Technology – Most of us have heard of, or wear a fitness tracking device to capture our daily activity and other important measurables.  What if our clothing could capture real-time biometrics?  A company, Spire, asked that same question and developed technology that can be attached to clothing, such as shorts, bras, even underwear. The Spire Health Tag tracks breathing patterns, stress levels, sleep, heart rate variability, and more.  For Occupational Therapists, the data captured by these health tags can help identify whether energy conservation plans or work simplification and modification ideas are working for a patient.

Smart Rehab DevicesNEOFECT introduced the Rapael Smart Pegboard at CES 2018. This device gamifies rehabilitation for upper limb, visual/spatial skills, and cognitive abilities in an affordable, portable device.  Smart rehab devices combine biofeedback and gamification to improve engagement and increase repetition during motor relearning exercises.  Occupational Therapists treating patients who have suffered brain injuries or are rehabbing from a stroke can incorporate devices like this into the treatment plan to enhance upper extremity rehabilitation.

Stabilization Technology – For Parkinson’s disease therapies, the Gyenno Spoon will be an interesting piece of technology to help with independent eating.  The Gyenno Spoon utilizes adaptive technology to sense patient tremors and stabilize the eating utensil.  The company also introduced a product that will be out later this year that uses laser technology to monitor patient gait and step length. When the patient begins shuffling, the device helps guide cadence and length of steps.

Attention Assessments – It is often difficult for an OT working with a special needs patient to recognize what interventions are most successful or engaging.  At CES 2018, Brain Co. displayed how technology similar to an EEG can be utilized to better recognize attention patterns of people with special needs. Initially designed for teachers in a classroom setting, the real-time brainwave and focus level feedback can quickly identify when therapy intervention activities are not engaging, and a different approach may be more beneficial.

Breaking the Language Barrier – Have you ever been in a situation where your OT patient is trying to communicate with you, but English is not their native language? A hand-held, two-way voice translator, The Pocketalk, will soon be available to help you translate 63 languages in real time. Working via Wi-Fi, mobile data, or a personal hotspot, the translator transfers speech to text on the screen and relays responses verbally. There is also a feature to assist with your post visit notes or documentation as 20 full exchanges are saved if needed.

How often are you an early adopter of new technologies for your Occupational Therapy practice?  Do you like to keep up with the latest advances and think about how they can help your patients in your setting?  Share your thoughts in the comment section below or visit us on our Facebook page and join the conversation.

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