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Technology and Disability communicates knowledge about the field of assistive technology devices and services, within the context of the lives of end users - persons with disabilities and their family members. While the topics are technical in nature, the articles are written for broad comprehension despite the reader's education or training.
Technology and Disability's contents cover research and development efforts, education and training programs, service and policy activities and consumer experiences.
The term Technology refers to assistive devices and services.
- The term Disability refers to both permanent and temporary functional limitations experienced by people of any age within any circumstance.
- The term and underscores the editorial commitment to seek for articles which see technology linked to disability as a means to support or compensate the person in daily functioning.
The Editor also attempts to link the themes of technology and disability through the selection of appropriate basic and applied research papers, review articles, case studies, programme descriptions, letters to the Editor and commentaries. Suggestions for thematic issues and proposed manuscripts are welcomed.
Abstract: The aim of this paper is to provide a clinical overview of Alzheimer's disease and the related dementias and to detail the progressive losses – physical, social and psychological – experienced by the individual diagnosed and the implications such losses have for user requirements in assistive technologies. The paper argues that in the absence of a cure for Alzheimer's disease and the related dementias, more innovative social care policies will need to be developed, designed to address the unique and complex needs of all those diagnosed. Although, assistive technologies have much potential in helping to compensate for the multiple losses…experienced by those diagnosed it is argued that their potential has not been fully realised. The paper opens with a discussion of when Alzheimer's disease was first clinically identified, and identifies reasons behind the present increase in numbers of people presenting with this disability across the world. A brief description of the clinical symptoms of the most common dementias is provided and of how the disease can adversely affect the daily living of people affected. Examples are given on how technology can support people with dementia and their caregivers and what requirements should be considered regarding their function and design.
Keywords: Dementia, demography, technology, user requirements
Abstract: There is growing interest in assistive technology (AT) as a means of enabling participation in everyday activities for persons with dementia and their relatives. Health economic assessment of AT in dementia is of importance due to the consequences of the disease for both patients and relatives and to the high societal costs for dementia care. The aim of this article is to outline a model for assessment of AT interventions for persons with dementia. The model expands existing assessment models as it also includes evaluation of the intervention process. Methodological challenges and possibilities in making health economic assessments, including outcomes…and costs, as well as process evaluation, are discussed in the article.
Abstract: One of the main tasks of the ENABLE project was to develop a methodology to support the assessment of the socio-economic costs and benefits at both a micro (individual) and macro (societal) level of the technologies developed and tested within the project. In simple terms, the goal of the ENABLE cost-benefit approach was to identify whether the benefits resulting from using the ENABLE technologies exceed their costs in terms of positive net social gains, thus indicating that they are a worthwhile investment from an individual and societal perspective. The cost-benefit analysis should, therefore, assess the technologies in relation to socio-economic…costs and any socio-economic benefits yielded. This paper presents an overview of the development of the cost-benefit methodology used in the assessment trials in ENABLE.
Abstract: This paper presents an analysis of the results based on the cost-benefit methodology developed for use in the assessment trials in ENABLE. The analysis contains cost-related data from the five countries involved. It presents mainly quantitative data on the benefits or outcomes of using the ENABLE technologies. The benefit-related data is supplemented by qualitative data from people with dementia and their carers.
Abstract: This paper describes an ongoing project developing an innovative approach to the introduction of assistive technology to the homes of elderly people with acquired cognitive impairment in Sweden. The project is client driven with the key objective being to assist people to achieve quality of life and empowerment. The emphasis is on the processes involved and inter-agency co-operation which is shown to be of key importance. Preliminary findings are discussed and key issues for future research are identified, indicating that introduction of technology is an interdisciplinary issue.
Abstract: Much assistive technology for people with dementia is primarily designed to support security and safety. This paper describes design work carried out for a project called INDEPENDENT which specifically aimed at designing technology to support quality of life. The project involved academic engineers, social scientists and architects, together with representatives of user groups and a manufacturer. The design work was based on a comprehensive user survey in which people with dementia themselves highlighted the factors which affected their quality of life. This data was analysed through a series of multi-disciplinary workshops involving the whole project consortium. The workshops consolidated the…data into a wish-list of 11 areas crucial to quality of life that could then be addressed by new designs. Of the total of 69 designs that were considered, 4 were selected for initial design work within the project; a simple music player, a window-on-the-world device for streaming remote images into people's homes and between homes, a conversation prompter, and a device to support sequences of activities. The paper describes progress with these devices, highlighting the iterative and user-led design methodology used.
Keywords: Assistive technology, dementia, quality of life, design methodology
Abstract: Due to problems with memory and orientation, people with dementia can wander and easily get lost. Most interventions for getting lost or wandering have in common that they restrict the patient. This is unnecessary when suitable devices, such as technological systems could be used. The objectives of this pilot field study were: 1)To identify different possibilities for preventing getting lost or solving the problems of wandering behaviour in patients with dementia. 2) To determine what functional specifications a system requires to support the problems due to getting lost or wandering in patients with dementia. 3) To put one…selected form of technical support into practice and to find out whether this system was experienced as effective. The main findings are that both informal and professional caregivers of patients with dementia point out the need of support for the problems of getting lost or wandering in dementia. Technological systems in which GSM is combined with GPS, could be a solution to the problems encountered by getting lost and wandering behaviour. Patients who are in an early stage of dementia would profit the most of the technological devices.
Keywords: Wandering, dementia, global positioning system
Abstract: As dementia progresses problems in distinguishing and perceiving dates, days of the week, and the time of day becomes more difficult. As a consequence the person with dementia can become more disorientated in time, missing appointments, doing things on the wrong day or at the wrong time, or they may begin to feel insecure with time. We carried out an assessment trial in which 50 persons with dementia tested automatic Night and Day calendars (NDC) at home in Lithuania, Norway, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Finland over one year. The aim of testing the NDC was to help people with…dementia with time orientation. Aims of this study were to find out how persons with dementia and their family carers describe time disorientation; what coping mechanisms, if any, they had implement to combat this; what were their expectations of the time-aid; how the time-aid was used; and did they find it useful. Findings from the first three months show that most respondents with dementia used the NDC and found it useful as did their carers. Our conclusion is that it is possible to compensate for problems in time orientation by using an assistive aid. However a thorough assessment of individual and family needs is required, fitting the technology around these needs. Usefulness of the time-aid is also dependent on the motivation of individuals to use the device.
Keywords: Dementia, assistive technology, time orientation
Abstract: This work reports Irish data emerging from the ENABLE study which trialled assistive technologies in the homes of people with dementia across five European countries and assessed their use and usefulness. The aim of this paper is to report findings on i) whether new prototype technologies could be used and were considered useful by people with dementia and their primary caregivers, ii) whether any technical difficulties were experienced by families while trialling these products, iii) whether these technologies could be better refined, and (iv) whether these products would be financially viable on the open market. Findings showed that in general,…most devices trialled were used and were considered useful by people with dementia. Apart from the night lamp, each of the other devices trialled was also used and considered useful by most primary caregivers. With the exception of the night lamp which was an entirely passive device, other devices often needed a carer present to remind the person with dementia to use the product. This occurred in about 50% of cases trialling the calendar, 33% trialling the telephone, and 80% trialling the locator. Caregivers were willing to pay most for devices which they considered useful and which required active participation, such as the picture telephone and the item locator.