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Assistive Technologies For Cognitive Difficulties by Charles Watson


Posted on June 22, 2021

Traumatic or Acquired brain injury affects your movement and strength and can also affect your memory and other cognitive functions. To compensate for these deficits, assistive tactics and tools can help combat short-term and long-term memory loss, difficulty concentrating and processing information, sleep disorders, multitasking, and organizational challenges. 

Simple 'homemade' solutions such as a large print calendar, a digital clock, or even a talking clock or calendar that will announce the time and date aloud. With the push of a button, the information can be accessed as many times as needed by the TBI patient. These can also act as reminders for medication and meal times or appointment reminders.

Checklists

A daily checklist to keep track of chores and appointments in several rooms of a home may include 'turn off iron", "lock the front door," "wash dirty linen," "grocery list," "visit the doctor," and “take the car keys." Homemade labels on the bedroom drawers, bathroom cabinets, and kitchen cupboards indicating what items are inside them can help victims find what they need quickly. 

A 'memory station.' TBI victims often have memory issues, and the inability to remember things leads to confusion and frustration. Labeling light switches in the main areas of the house can help combat memory issues and decrease anxiety.

Recording Devices

Voice recorders on keychains or reminder apps for brain injury patients on smartphones can include prerecorded messages about prescription refills and emergency telephone numbers. For TBI victims that have trouble writing, devices such as Smart Pens are available that can record as you write.

Elaborate memo recorders such as Voice Cue can be programmed to make specific announcements at the same time each day of the week. Watch Minder; a device set ahead of time can remind a person to do specific tasks like "go to work" or "call the Doctor." 

For TBI victims who cannot write, speech-to-text software can be installed in smartphones, smartwatches, or computers. This software can turn speech into text which can then be sent through text, email and can even aid the TBI sufferer in getting back to work or live independently with confidence.  

Speech generating devices such as GoTalks is a device that can help with a TBI or ABI person’s ability to express and understand written and spoken language. 

Audio-Visual Aids

Hand-held microcomputers such as Palm Pilot and Visual Assistant use touch screen technology to allow an individual to save and retrieve important information, pictures, and even recorded audio messages that provide step-by-step instructions.

Ultra Key Seeker assists in locating lost or misplaced keys. Shake Awake; a vibrating alarm clock is a device to help TBI survivors with varied sleep patterns. It can be placed under the mattress or inside a pillowcase to assist with conditions such as insomnia and reversed sleep-wake schedules. 

Pill Alert is another device that can be set to beep and flash at different medication times. This device is usually pocket-sized or can be housed in a wristwatch to remind the TBI patient to take his medication whether at work or on the go. Pill sorters help keep track of all medicines to be taken at a given time for each day of the week. 

Assistive Devices Around the Kitchen

The Talking microwave II provides voice prompts that include current power level, the status of the microwave and announcements for setting and running cook times, and reminders to attend to the food. 

The Boil Alert: A round 3.5" heat-resistant glass disk that can be placed at the bottom of a pot or kettle. The rattling sound alerts an individual when the liquid inside the utensil starts to boil. Brain injured people usually forget or become distracted though they may enjoy cooking.  

A Stove Power Controller: This device is equipped with an alarm that can be set for 15, 30, or 60-minute intervals before the automatic shut-off occurs to remind individuals that the electric stove is on.  

For brain-injured victims that cannot afford these assistive devices, there are many funding programs. There are also grants at the federal and provincial levels that can assist with home environment accessibility renovations.