Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Assistive Technology

Assistive technology- Any item, piece of equipment or product system whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to improve or increase functional capacities of individuals with disabilities (Assistive Technologies: Principles and Practice : Cook, A.M., & Hussey, S.M. (2000). Assistive technologies: principles and practice. St Louis: Mosby).
My understanding of assistive technology is simply that we are using the resources of our modern day and age in order to assist those who are disadvantaged in some way. We have such a wide range of technological advances that are happening all the time and at times its hard to keep up with the changes. In Occupational therapy I think it is essential that the therapist of today are well equipped and have a good idea about what assistive technologies are out there. Although at times it makes our heads hurt when we are trying to figure out how to use a new computer or we don’t know what this and that means, it is well worth knowing how to make the most of the incredible resources that we now have access to.
The iPad is perhaps one of the most exciting pieces of assistive technology at the moment. Not only is it a phenomenon in the work place, schools, or for editing your latest photos, it is being used all over the world for people with special needs. The iPad is a line of tablet computers designed and marketed by Apple Inc., primarily as a platform for audio-visual media including books, periodicals, movies, music, games, apps and web content. Like iPhone and iPod Touch, the iPad is controlled by a multi touch display as well as a virtual onscreen keyboard in lieu of a physical keyboard. The iPad is sold in Wi-Fi and cellular models. The Wi-Fi connection is used to access local area networks and the Internet. Apple released the first iPad in April 2010, selling 300,000 units on the first day and selling 3 million in 80 days. During 2010, Apple sold 14.8 million iPads worldwide, representing 75% of tablet PC sales at the end of 2010. By the release of the iPad 2 in March 2011, more than 15 million iPads had been sold, selling more than all other tablet PCs combined since the iPad's release. In 2011, it took approximately 73% of the tablet computing market share in the United States. During the fourth quarter of 2011, Apple sold 15.4 million iPads. The iPad's (first two generations) touchscreen display is a 1024 × 768 pixel, (197×148 mm) liquid crystal display (246.4 mm), with fingerprint- and scratch-resistant glass. The display responds to other sensors: an ambient light sensor to adjust screen brightness and a 3-axis accelerometer to sense iPad orientation and switch between portrait and landscape modes. Unlike the iPhone and iPod Touch's built-in applications, which work in three orientations (portrait, landscape-left and landscape-right), the iPad's built-in applications support screen rotation in all four orientations, including upside-down (Wikipedia. (2012). iPad. Retrieved from The latest iPad has been described as resolutionary. “Pick up the new iPad and suddenly, it’s clear. You’re actually touching your photos, reading a book, playing the piano. Nothing comes between you and what you love. To make that hands-on experience even better, we made the fundamental elements of iPad better — the display, the camera and the wireless connection. All of which makes the new, third-generation iPad capable of so much more than you ever imagined”. (Apple Inc. (2012). Apple store. Retrieved from The cost of an iPad can vary depending on the model, but ranges between NZ $579- $1228. There are over 20 000 app’s available for users so it’s safe to say that users have plenty more opportunity to engage themselves.
Here are a couple of videos showing just how the iPad is being used with people who have impairments.

And just for a bit of a laugh....

The iPad has something for everyone, even the cat!

And it has so many great uses! Perhaps a few you hadn't already thought off.

Blogging Part Two

These are a few blogs that I am following at the moment. There's a whole lot of great blogs out there but these are a few that particularly caught my attention as they  look at alternate options for therapy and have a whole lot of good ideas to share. What a great tool for OT's to share information and bounce off each other for ideas and inspiration. 

The Internet and Online Communities

My most recent placement was in an inpatients physical setting at Auckland Hospital. We saw a whole range of patients but I was particularly interested in young adults who had sustained brain injuries. I guess this area caught my attention as it was my peers that had sustained life changing injuries and now that had to piece back together their life and those things that are most meaningful to them. It was challenging because I was dealing with people that so easily could have been my best friend, my classmate or even me. It put in to reality how easily someone’s life could be completely be turned upside down and then how are you meant to get back to life and those things that are so meaningful to you. The concepts of occupational disruption, transition and deprivation are all factors that have to be considered.

Facebook is a social networking service that most of us will admit we are only daily. Its intended purpose is to connect people! But it is so much more than that, it literally can tell a persons life story. We share, like, comment, connect, show interest in things, follow things, poke things, join groups, follow bands, create events, follow the news, share in formation, the list just goes on! its interactive in a range of ways; we can instant message friends, write on walls, provide links, post information, invite friends, we can do so much! You will find when you follow the link I have provided, it takes you to an event that has been created by Alex. This is a Guy i went to school with. When you read the information on the page you will hear Alex’s story. When Alex first had his accident, no one really knew what had happened and how he was going and we were all really concerned. I had literally been talking to Alex half an hour before his accident. His family used his Facebook as a tool to inform all of Alex’s friends about how he was going and what was happening with him. He has set up this page since then, offering people an opportunity to interact and contribute to this awesome cause and it continues to keep us up to date with how Alex is going.

The Healing Exchange (T.H.E) BRAIN TRUST has built up a global online community for people whose lives have been affected by brain tumors, injuries and related issues. When you go onto the website it gives you a good run down about what they are about and the service they are providing.  They have set up email support groups that are operating globally 24hrs a day; they currently have over 2000 subscribers made up of patients, parents, carers, friends, medical workers and many others. This online community provides a service were people could ask questions, make connections, get answers and discuss topics. People have the opportunity to contribute to the cause through donations. On the site, they have a tab that goes in to how you can donate and contribute to helping these people!

This website is not related to brain injuries in particular but it’s an online community for young adults who have or have had cancer. It’s one of the largest support communities for those that fall under this population. The website is great so have a look around and read all about the awesome things these guys are doing. The site is interactive in that it speaks directly to whoever is reading it, it’s as if someone is there talking to you face to face! It has a whole lot of links that you simply click on and it will direct you to where you will find what you’re looking for. This place pretty much has everything you could need. People can contribute financially to this organisation and there is a link provided for this on the site.

For each of these sites, it seems individuals have recognised a need, and saw an opportunity to fill that need. Through their own experiences or through the voice of others they have realised that there are certain needs that aren’t being meet for our young adults that are facing or have faced life-threatening experiences yet are so often over looked. These online communities provide a service were people can interact with each other and exchange information, support or simply make connections. They are also a place where the rest of the public can hear young adults share their traumatic experiences and in return provide financial support or donate to organisations. 
Occupational disruption refers to the temporary transient disruption resulting from factors that are internal or individual such as ones illness. (Townsend, E.A. & Wilcock, H.J. (2007). Enabling occupation II: Advancing an occupational therapy vision for health, well-being, & justice through occupation. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists.)
These sites are directed toward young adults who have experienced illness or injury that has had significant impact on their life. These websites recognise the disruption that young adults experience and provide support or a voice for this population. These websites are connecting young adults and providing a service that helps support people and offers advice or directs them to where they can find what they need in order to fulfil occupations that are meaningful to them.
Occupational transition is certainly something that these communities can relate to as many of them have had to make life changing adjustments due to their illness or injury. Many of them will talk about where they have come from compared to where they are now, these sites provide a place for these young adults to share similar experiences and support each other as they transition to perhaps a very different life style that they never could have anticipated.
As with anything online, these online communities have ethical issues that need to be considered. How reliable is the content that is being provided, copyrights, were is the money really going and how can they guarantee this. In most cases anyone can post and make comments on the pages so is there a system in place to monitor these things and who deciphers what is appropriate or not? Some content posted on these sites could be offensive to others.
Each of these sites are very beneficial to those within the population that they are directed at but also for the public. They have the ability to connect individuals who share similar challenges and interests. These online communities break down geographical barriers and make it possible to interact with people all over the globe. 

Video Production (Part 2)

These are a few videos I found on YouTube about the use of ipads and ipods that are being used for therapy with a wide range of clients. It's amazing to see how dramatically this piece of assisstive technology has transformed clients lives. It seems to have a significant influence in the area of communication which is such an essential aspect of a persons life. Being able to communicate and express to others is so important to individuals. Everyone has a voice that needs to be heard! 

Video Production (Part 1)

Occupational Transition...

When we were set the task of producing a short film, the concept of occupational transition was a very appropriate choice for a group. Being all around the same age, occupational transition was something we had all recently experienced and could personally relate to. Each of us had our own account of occupational transitions that we had when moving from a familiar environment into a new one when we decided to pursue our studies in Occupational Therapy. This task offered an opportunity for each of us to share information about ourselves with the rest of the group and actually get to know each other better. For me especially being from another year level, I got some insight in to were these girls were from and what transitions that have made in order to be were they are today. I could then personally relate to them as i shared my account of what i had to leave behind and what changes happened in my life. These discussions of our personal life came about as we were trying to plan our short film and share ideas about how best we could convey Occupational Transition in a short film that would be relevant to other viewers. We put together a story board of how we would sequence the slides so that it was easy for viewers to follow. We initially started off with some pretty big ideas about having back drops and before and after shots and all different kinds of locations. As great as these sounded we had to keep in mind our limited film time, what resources we had and how much time we had to do it. After this reality check we were able to come up with something much more achievable.
Each of us had two pieces of paper, on the first piece of paper we wrote down a few key words that described were we had transitioned from and on the second piece of paper; were we had transitioned to. It was interesting that each of us had very different words on our pieces of paper despite all having the same occupational transition, it identified what each of us valued and perhaps what aspects we found most challenging or significant.
We shot each person holding their before and after pieces of paper. Our concept was fairly simple and we didn't use lots of fancy editing but we achieved what we wanted to.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Occupational Engagement: Doing, Being, Belonging, Becoming

  1. The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture,...: "the art of the Renaissance"
  2. Works produced by such skill and imagination.
craft - skill - artifice - science - workmanship - knack
For my fieldwork2 placement I was placed at Studio 2 which  is a creative space in central Dunedin where people with disabilities are supported to create artworks. This week we have been looking at the concepts of Doing, Being, Belonging and Becoming, these tie in with activity of art very well.

 Occupational therapists significantly contribute to increasing an individual’s quality of life. Knowing, doing, being and belonging are all equally exclusive components of human occupation that influence the meaning and value of a person’s occupation. The first four paintings in the slide are ones you have all probably seen before, each of these come from different eras of human history. Art is an expression of a person’s creative skills and imagination, it is a narrative of endless possibilities. Art may be influenced by the environment, society, culture, personal values and beliefs, from which others then draw their own interpretation.  For the entire existence of humanity art has been a tool used to document history.
Street art is a fairly new concept. Artists have challenged art by situating it in non-art contexts. ‘Street’ artists do not aspire to change the definition of an artwork, but rather to question the existing environment with its own language, the next two slides are just a couple of types or street art.
Sculptures, drawings, paper Mache, these are just a few other forms of art. The possibilities are endless when it comes to being creative! The remaining slides are from my fieldwork 2 placement at Studio2. Despite their disabilities and limitations, they too have a story to tell, they have something that they want to express and Studio2 offers a space for them to create and develop their artworks in a range of different ways.

As with anything that goes online, ethical considerations have to be made. In regards to the pictures used on my slide show, all of these were from online sources and did not have any copy right restrictions associated with them.  In using them however it limited the authenticity of the images and meant my slide show was perhaps not so original in that it didn’t contain any images that I had personally obtained. When I was putting together my slide show I couldn’t help but think to myself how ironic it is that the most sought after and famous paintings in the world can so easily be accessed by literally anyone online. We can pick and choose whatever image or information we want and simply copy and paste it to documents, power points, posters etc.; change a few words here and there and put the pictures in a new order and call it our piece of work.  

Monday, 12 March 2012

Information Technology and Ethical Issues

This weeks post is a brief look at what information technology is, how prevalent it is in today's society and how it directly effects me and fellow occupational therapy students. I will be sharing first hand my experiences of IT in general and while on fieldwork. There are many ethical implications associated with IT so we will be briefly looking in to this also. Enjoy!

 Information Technology : n. (Abbr. IT)
The development, installation, and implementation of computer systems and applications.
Information Communication Technology: 
 ICT consists of all technical means used to handle information and aid communication, including computer and network hardware, communication middleware as well as necessary software. (Hill, 2011)
IT and ICT are the ways in which we deal with information and communicate this information with others. These new means of information gathering and communication have completely transformed society and technology is continually improving to and developing to better our use of these tools. Our society completely revolves around computer systems and applications. Almost everything we use is a form of a computer system or the product of something as a result of a computer system. IT has enhanced the  abilities of humans and allowed us to do things that we though were unimaginable. Although in saying that human kind had the ability to develop such a tool that would so positively impact society to improve production rates, communication systems, data management, networking, administration and monitoring of entire systems. IT is also increasingly becoming integrated with technologies such as cell phones, televisions and automobiles which is very significant in the workforce.The following video in my opinion gives a good idea of just how significant IT and ICT is in todays society so check it out. Security - it is becoming increasingly easy to hack into people's computers and websites. This needs to be stopped because hacking into someones computer is the equivalent to breaking into someones house - it shouldn't happen.Computer Crimes and Computer Related Crimes - like Security, more and more people are hacking into computers and programmes. A lot more crimes are being committed over and because of the Internet also. For example people can hack into bank accounts and steal money, or manipulate systems to cause destruction. A man in Australia hacked into a sewerage system and released millions of litres of raw waste into rivers and parks.(, 2011)(Ministry of Economic Development, 2010)There are a range of ethical implications that are associated with the use of IT devices and systems which people need to be aware of. These things need to be monitored closely and can be avoided when  used correctly.

For me personally IT and ICT are crucial to me. They are my main means of communication not only between me and my circle of friends but also for my work, study, family, local community, general news and more! Through IT i am able to connect with almost everyone i want to at any given time in any given place at a simple click of a mouse. I feel pretty confident in using IT as it is something that i have been immersed in since a young age. It was used all though out school, in my home and now in my studies so i naturally have been required to be competent in using it. I feel there is nothing that could limit my use of IT these days as there is an unlimited amount of accessibility to it. Perhaps having a mac book pro would better my use of it! my dreams.

How is IT being used in Occupational therapy practice?
As IT continues to develop it has become more and more appropriate as a means of treatment in Occupational Therapy practice. Computers and video game consoles are being used rather than weaving activities as a treatment tool. Th internet provides a virtual environment in which a client can engage in occupation. Self cares can be attended to though IT such as having the ability to do online shopping, online telephone to be in contact with people and online banking to manage finances etc. The internet can also cater to leisure activities by providing online music, movies, television, telephones and connect an individual to virtual communities. Social interaction is made very available due to IT through things such as chat rooms, video messaging, instant messaging, email, blogs etc all of which have the potential to provide peer support for a client. IT also allows an individual to be very productive as they can buy and sell items online, organize travel online and advertise.  
What issues exist around OT's adoption of IT systems and tools?
 Contrary to all the benefits the IT can provide, there are a range of issues that are also related to IT which OT's need to precautionary to. Addiction to gaming may become an issue for a client be it to a shooting game, gambling etc. Especially with the use of the internet it is very easy for a client to end up on pages that are not beneficial and could be potentially harmful to them such as illegal down loading sites, pornographic sites, giving out personal information, getting caught up in hacked systems (banking etc). It is important that the OT closely monitors the clients use of the internet and makes them aware of the potential dangers. 
What are some of the ways you can envisage IT use becoming a potential tool of practice?
 It is certain that as technology continues to develop it will become more and more adaptable. Within practice this will mean that IT is likely to become a much more common tool for treatment as it will be made more suitable to a much wider range of clients and be easier to use. Also todays generation are smothered in technology from a very young age so people are much more savvy in using it. 
In your own words briefly critique why or why not a great understanding and use of IT will help us in our practice of daily lives.
It is important that Occupational Therapists have an understanding of IT and the use of it in order to effectively utilize it in practice and as treatment. When used properly it can be very beneficial in relation to storing, maintaining and updating client data, as a way of communication with clients, other professionals, client families etc. IT is used significantly in many sectors of work in society so there is no reason why occupational therapy should be any different. It is obviously a very effective tool when used properly so it would be very beneficial for Occupational Therapists to have a comprehensive understanding of it.

 Privacy and Confidentiality - all web communications are subject to "eavesdropping". Browsers record your activities in history files. Cookies deposited by web sites collect information about you and your browsing. EG many online e-commerce sites use cookies to track buying habits. When these cookies are collected into a database, they may reveal identities of individuals. Some companies sell these databases.
Freedom and Censorship of Speech - people have to respect Copyright laws, and many of these laws are being violated, resulting in other laws being enforced banning people from downloading things like music off the Internet. It is good for musicians who don't want their music stolen, but bad for musicians who are wanting their music to be downloaded so they can become popular. There are also people who warp what other people say, or criticise it. This isn't fair because the Internet is open to anyone to say whatever they want.