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Assistive Technology in the Healthcare Industry

With the help of technology, many patients are now becoming more independent after being diagnosed with serious conditions.
Matt H Jul 29, 2019

Advances in Technology

It goes without saying that advances in technology over the years have impacted every aspect of our lives. Day to day tasks have been made more simple and less time consuming thanks to the vast array of gadgets on the market.

Simply put, technology helps to make life easier, tasks less time consuming and also to achieve things that were not possible before.

Medical Technology

One industry that has benefited significantly from advances in technology is healthcare, and the main beneficiaries of medical technology progress are the patients.

Technology has improved diagnostic processes beyond recognition as well as helping to greatly enhance treatment procedures for a huge number of conditions.

Assistive Technology

One particular type of technology which has revolutionised the certain facets of the healthcare industry in recent years is assistive tech.

Assistive technology helps patients to more easily perform routine tasks that they otherwise would be unable to do, as a result of their medical condition.

Assistive Technology and Neurodegenerative Diseases

People suffering from neurodegenerative conditions like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, can greatly benefit from assistive technology.
Devices can allow these people to perform tasks that would otherwise be difficult for them to perform, following the diagnosis. ALS is a neurodegenerative condition whose patients can benefit from assistive tech.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating neurodegenerative disease. It's a condition which gets worse over time and typically someone with ALS will live between only 3 and 5 years after their diagnosis.
The rate in which ALS progresses varies from individual to individual, but the challenges faced by the patient will become increasingly difficult.

Assistive Technology for ALS Patients

The symptoms associated with ALS can greatly impact the life of someone with the disease. Muscle weakness, difficulty in speaking as well as an impaired ability to walk are examples of some of the symptoms that individuals with ALS will have to try and deal with.

Thankfully, assistive technology can help some patients perform routine tasks more easily.

Eye-tracking Devices

As ALS progresses, it will negatively affect most areas of the patient's body, but the eyes will remain largely unaffected. Therefore, eye-tracking technology can help an ALS patient to control a computer without using their fingers.

This is extremely beneficial to individuals in the advanced stages of ALS who can no longer freely move their limbs.

Speech Generating Devices

Slurred speech can be one of the early signs of ALS and the ability to speak will likely diminish over time following a diagnosis of the disease.
Speech generating devices, like the ones used by the late Professor Stephen Hawking, can allow individuals with this devastating disease to continue communicating long after their ability to speak has diminished.

Brain Computer Interface (BCI)

Advancements in Brain Computer Interface (BCI) technology look set to be of huge benefit to individuals suffering from the very late stages of ALS.
For those who are unable to make voluntary bodily movements, the ability to communicate becomes even more difficult. BCI technology can allow communication to be made via a cap that records signals from the brain.

Improving the Quality of Life

There is currently no cure for ALS and the symptoms associated with the disease can make living with the disease very challenging.
Assistive technology may not provide all the answers, but it certainly can help improve the quality of life for individuals diagnosed with ALS and other neurodegenerative conditions.