Therapists involved in treating brain injury are greatly in need of tools that can make their work more efficient and effective. Technology is never the “answer” but the right technology can help the therapist save time at the very least without sacrificing quality; allowing them to treat a growing volume and complexity of patients in a given time period. This isn’t easy but it’s the reason for the growth in interest in Telehealth, mHealth and similar schools of thought.
Rehabilitation should be person centred. At its best it brings together good processes, expert knowledge and great rehabilitation tools and technology for the benefit of the client. Both the patient and the therapist should be empowered. If any element is missing the result is not going to be the best it can be.
Experience has taught us that restoring an individual’s quality of life following a brain injury can be just as limited by the resources, attitudes, beliefs, structures and processes of care delivery as it is by any fundamental lack of knowledge of how to achieve physical and cognitive improvement.
Lack of financial resource in the system often acts as a barrier. Other barriers exist too - The question is - how can these barriers be surmounted? Technology definitely has a role here.
It is human nature to create “tools” that improve our ability to deal with the challenges we face in life. Tools can amplify a positive effect, bring efficiency and effectiveness and allow us to make the most of available resources.
Of course, the introduction and adoption of technology into an application area isn’t always welcomed. Think “Luddite” for example - the 19th Century textile artisans who protested against new technology’s introduction into the domain of spinning and weaving. More recently, as word processing technology surfaced for the first time, a New York Times article in 1971 said that "Some [secretaries] see word processing as a career ladder into management; others see it as a dead-end into the automated ghetto; others predict it will lead straight to the picket line.”
This points to a universal truth that technology has an impact on all the people whose lives it touches and that impact can be perceived as positive or negative - it depends on your point of view.
Although relatively unknown in the UK, in Germany RehaCom is used by 95% of clinics involved in assisting brain injured clients with cognitive deficits. Does this mean that RehaCom is the answer to cognitive rehabilitation? Of course not - RehaCom is a software tool that enables a good therapist, who knows how to work alongside a patient to improve the patient’s cognitive functions and develop strategies to translate these improvements into everyday life.
What RehaCom does is provide the materials, the resources and the tools for these improvements and strategies to be gained efficiently as well as effectively. In the current climate where pressure to treat efficiently has never been greater, RehaCom is a great tool to enable therapists to give better care.
Once considered an overused and trite term, neuroplasticity has gained more substance and support as techniques of medical imaging now allow greater utility in studying the processes of recovery from brain injury and other neurological insults. Before neuroplasticity became the buzz word it is now, science did not readily believe that recovery was something easily gained through restitution techniques - it was compensation or nothing. Certainly, science is catching up with the notion that training can be effective in cognitive rehabilitation and that tools such as RehaCom provide a very nice way of delivering it.