By Nicole Natale, MS, CCC-SLP, ATP, Senior Education Specialist, CREC Resource Group

The CT Tech Act Project was awarded a grant as part of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation National Paralysis Resource Center 2020 High Impact Innovative Assistive Technology (HIIAT) grants program. As a result, the CT Tech Act and three assistive technology (AT) partner agencies, Capitol Region Education Council (CREC), EASTCONN, the New England Assistive Technology (NEAT) Center at Oak Hill, as well as two local hospitals – Gaylord Hospital and Hartford Healthcare – are providing access to AT services and devices for patients with spinal cord injuries or other conditions that cause paralysis. These services are provided through virtual AT demonstrations, as well as AT device-lending so that individuals and their families can experience how AT can enhance independence and quality of life.

So far, the AT partners have received 15 referrals. CREC has completed two of them and the experience has been very positive! Both individuals wanted to increase their independence when arriving home by connecting with loved ones and doctors and by accessing environmental controls independently. Both patients are interested in borrowing an Amazon Echo Show from the CREC lending library in order to call emergency contacts, spouses and family members/friends and to connect with healthcare professionals. Patients will also use Alexa for appointment reminders, and things like taking medicines on time. These individuals will be accessing the Echo Show with voice recognition, due to their limitations with both fine- and gross-motor skills. One of our patients will also be trialing Philips Hue Smart Light Bulbs, which allows users to employ voice commands to turn on lights and operate an August Smart Lock. The August Smart Lock is Alexa-enabled, enabling our patient to lock and unlock his door, using either voice commands or the Alexa mobile app, all of which supports increased independence.

Once patients have participated in a demonstration, they have the option to purchase the AT tools or access an AT lending library to trial the device to ensure its effectiveness and confirm that it’s an appropriate match for their needs. The goal of this project is to reach at least 100 patients by the end of the year and we are well on our way!