Acute Healthcare / Health & Healthcare

How Technology can Assist People with an ABI to Increase their Motivation, Function, Cognitive Abilities & Upper Limb Movement

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Vicky Abraham

Vicki Abraham has been in private practice for 16 years and Abraham OT Services P/L (AOTS) has 5 OT’s providing OT services to people with varying conditions. Vicki’s clinic focuses on the use of robotic /computer based therapy devices and CI Therapy due to the need for Neurological Upper Limb Rehab within the community setting increasing.

In 2013, Vicki was awarded the George Alexander Fellowship through the International Specialised Skills Institute. This enabled her to travel overseas and research CBT devices available.

In the lead up to the 4th Annual National Acquired Brain Injury Conference, I was delighted to have the opportunity to speak with Vicki about how technology can assist people with an ABI to increase their motivation, function, cognitive abilities and upper limb movement. I hope you enjoy the interview.

Informa: What are the benefits of robotic/ computer assistive technologies to your practice as an Occupational Therapist?

Vicki: The robotics/ computer devices we use in our therapy can pick up the smallest movement which the client may not realise they are able to perform, or the therapist might not be able to see.

We can shape the programs so that this small movement can control the entire game which then increases the client’s motivation to try harder, concentrate longer and continue at home with their homework in order to increase their abilities and movement further.

The therapy sessions we run with our clients are fun and exciting.  Clients improve while they are treated with the serious gaming and they enjoy it, rehabilitation is no longer a chore but fun.

Informa: What impact has technology had on the rehabilitation for people who have experienced an ABI?

Vicki: The technology available now enables more people with an ABI to try to increase their function. Prior to this technology being available some clients were told that there was nothing further which could be done to increase their movement or function.  This is no longer the case.

The technology available also provides immediate feedback, both visually and auditory. Clients are now aware immediately as to whether they are performing the required movement or not.  Therapy is lots of fun and motivating with technology.

Informa: Can a client experience any challenges during rehabilitation/ therapy with robotic/ computer assistive technologies?

Vicki: Any intensive therapy is exhausting on clients as they are focusing their attention for long periods of time and they experience cognitive fatigue as well as physical fatigue.  Clients who come to us for robotic/computer assisted therapy experience this fatigue on a higher level.

The reason for this is that they can see that they are able to perform movements that they thought they were unable to perform and so they are determined to continue further and push themselves further than they normally would in therapy.

Informa: Is there any advice you would give to a family member or carer who is looking into rehabilitation options for their loved one, who has experienced an ABI?

Vicki: Keep searching until you feel satisfied with the treatment options you have tried. Not all therapies suit each person, and there are options available. Just make sure that the advice you receive is evidence based and can be clinically justified.  Everyone deserves hope and there are amazing therapists doing amazing things with assisting people with ABIs increase their function and quality of life.

Informa: You are presenting at the 4th Annual National Acquired Brain Injury Conference. Without giving too much away, what do you hope the attendees will take away from your presentation ‘Treating with Technology – The 5 W’s (What, Why, Who, Where & When)’?

Vicki: I am hoping that during my presentation the attendees smile, laugh and enjoy experiencing how technologies can assist people with ABI’s as well as feel motivated by options available.

I am hoping that my presentation demonstrates that therapy can be fun for both the client and the therapist and treatment time can go extremely quickly. I am also hoping that the attendees will leave with increased knowledge regarding how technology can assist people with an ABI to increase their motivation, function, cognitive abilities and upper limb movement.

Informa: What elements of the 4th Annual National Acquired Brain Injury Conference taking place on 8 – 9 November 2016 at the Royal Rehab, Ryde, Sydney, are you most looking forward to, and why?

Vicki: I am looking forward to hearing Barry Willer speak.  I have had the opportunity to attend two of Barry’s courses on TBI and he is very motivating to listen to.  I am also interested in hearing about the recent research and services being conducted.

For more information about detailed conference agenda and to register, please visit the 4th Annual National Acquired Brain Injury Conference website.

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