iPads ease the burden for patients with spinal cord injuries

Sep 2 2011
A $13,000 grant from the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation is being used to purchase iPads for patients with spinal cord injuries, many of whom have undergone spinal surgery.

At the Occupational Therapy Department of Nova Scotia University's (NSU) College of Allied Health and Nursing, the touch pad tablets will make connecting to the world wide web easier for people with limited mobility.

Every day, spinal cord injuries paralyze about 30 people, amounting to approximately 11,000 patients every year in the U.S., according to the Think First National Injury Prevention Foundation. Of those injuries, more than 38 percent are from car accidents, almost 25 percent are due to acts of violence, and more than 20 percent are the result of falls. The degree of mobility and sensation that a patient loses depends on where along the spinal cord the injury occurs; the higher along the spinal cord it takes place, the more bodily function control is lost. Patients with quadriplegia are paralyzed from the neck down, while patients with paraplegia are paralyzed in their lower body. Less than one percent of patients completely recover.

For some patients with spinal cord injuries, paralysis can make everyday tasks such as using the computer or holding up a newspaper for reading rather difficult. However, at NSU, iPads are easing the burden for patients who want to perform these tasks.

Compared to computers or laptops, iPads are lightweight and more portable, said Adrienne Lauer, EdD, OTR/L, program director and assistant professor of occupational therapy at NSU. The iPads' easy touch screen allows recipients to comfortably surf the internet, listen to music and play games.

So far, the grant helped purchase 20 iPads, and eight of them were given to individuals with spinal cord injuries as well as other conditions, such as cerebral palsy. The rest will be given to other patients with disabilities around Broward County.