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How Assistive Devices Can Help Individuals Transfer Home After Rehabilitation



Introduction


When it is time for individuals with neurological conditions or amputations to transition out of their rehabilitation facility, extensive planning needs to occur. The patient and their health care team must determine if the individual can transition home or if they will need further assistance in a long-term care facility. Throughout the transition, it is important that patients maintain independence and self-governance to optimize their quality of life. Assistive devices are one factor that can influence how individuals function independently and participate in society.


The Transition Process


Before the transition out of rehabilitation begins, a home assessment is conducted by an occupational therapist or a home care worker to evaluate how individuals' function in their environment. At Parkwood Institute in London Ontario and many other specialized rehabilitation centers across Canada, patients are encouraged to take a leave of absence on weekends, especially as they are nearing discharge to experience what is it like to live at home. There is also an apartment unit at Parkwood Institute that provides patients with a space to practice living independently, while still having access to health care professionals. These temporary absences help the health care team and patient determine facilitators and barriers that will influence how the patient functions in their home environment. It also provides patients with an opportunity to borrow and utilize assistive devices to determine what equipment is needed.


Factors that Influence the Transition Process


The factors that influence how patients transition out of rehabilitation will vary for each person. Factors that help facilitate the transition process include assistive devices, financial stability, the health care team, and one’s social support network. Barriers that can hinder patients’ ability to transition home include financial instability, rural living, as well as one’s cognition and level of functioning.


Assistive Devices


Assistive devices can help individuals feel in control of their lives, secure, and less reliant on others. They can also help people spend time alone, perform activities of daily living, and participate in social activities. For example, a manual wheelchair can help an individual access education and employment, while lowering their chances of experiencing some of the health risks associated with immobility. Although assistive devices can positively impact one’s health, wellbeing, and quality of life, they can be difficult to access.


What are Some Common Assistive Devices that Help Individuals Transition Home After Rehabilitation?


Please note that every patient will have a specialized set of devices that are tailored to their needs.


Assistive Devices for Individuals with Neurological Conditions:

  • Wheelchairs

  • Walkers and Rollators

  • Slider Boards

  • Ankle Foot Orthosis/Foot Drop Braces

  • GivMohr Slings


Assistive Devices for Individuals with Amputations:

  • Prosthetic Devices

  • Wheelchairs

  • Amputee Boards

  • Forearm Crutches

  • Splints


Assistive Devices that Help Both Populations Perform Activities of Daily Living


Bathroom Equipment:
  • Tub Transfer Benches

  • Toilet Equipment: Toilet Seat Risers, Handles

  • Wheeled Commodes

  • Hand Held Shower Heads

  • Clamp-On Grab Bars

Room Equipment:
  • Bedrails

  • Hospital Beds

  • Furniture Risers

Kitchen Equipment:
  • Adaptive Cutting Boards

  • Food Choppers

  • Electric Can Openers

  • Built-Up Utensils

Car Equipment:
  • Custom Vehicle Modifications

General:
  • Permanent Ramps and Portable Ramps

  • Reachers and Grabbers

  • Shoe Horns


 

Acknowledgements


Special thanks to Kristen Johnson, OT Reg. (Ont.) and Amanda Gouweloos, OT Reg. (Ont.) for providing their expertise.


 

References


van Dam, K., Gielissen, M., Bles, R., van der Poel, A., & Boon, B. (2023). The impact of assistive living technology on perceived independence of people with a physical disability in executing daily activities: a systematic literature review. Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology, 0(0), 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1080/17483107.2022.2162614


World Health Organization. (2023). Assistive Technology.



 

Image Credit


Image by DCStudio on Freepik



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