Bloomberg News shared an interesting story this week on how technology is impacting the lives of those who have suffered brain injuries. It is sometimes forgotten that tech advances can lead to amazing new tools that allow those with certain severe disabilities to more fully engage in the world around them. Our Illinois brain injury attorneys appreciate the terrific advances that offer things for certain community members that would have seemed unattainable even a few years ago. Helping families have resources to access all of these tools and supplies is a goal of the work that we do via brain injury lawsuits in the civil justice system.
The Bloomberg story explains that the “assistive-technology” market is currently a $1 billion a year industry that continues to grow. There is no sign that it is slowing. When one considers the effects that these tech improvements have on the lives of so many community members there is no wonder why the industry has a bright future.
The article shares the story of one woman who has fine motor skill issues that force her hands into tightly clenched positions and limit her arm movements. As a result of a traumatic brain injury several years ago she is unable to walk, talk, or move her arms without restriction. Originally the woman had a communication device that weighed nine pounds and cost $15,000. The machine was supposed to track her eye movements on a special grid which corresponded with the alphabet. However, now a modified iPad has been able to open up a whole new world for her. Her mother noted with pride that when her daughter is using the iPad, “You see the joy on her face. It represents freedom to her.”
The assistive technology market is mostly focuses on the software side of the equation, creating programs that can be used on hardware machines like the iPad. A few companies dominate the market-DynaVox, Inc., Tobii Technology, and Prentke Romich. However, the advent of an “open” operating system is fostering a grassroots software industry to create programs to help those with certain mental or physical disabilities. Essentially anyone with the programming gumption can take a crack at creating tools which can help those in need.
Industry insiders say that those who have suffered stroke or a traumatic brain injury are leading the way in spurring innovation in the field. Instead of lugging around twenty pound devices to the playground, smaller tools may now be able to serve the same function in easier ways.
Communication is often at the heart of the benefit. According to the story, one sixteen year old girl sank into a major depression after suffering a traumatic brain injury in a car accident. Her parents explained that she finally improved when she was able to use an art application program on an iPad that improved her ability to communicate and express her creative side. The girl uses a special stylus that helps her do much more on her own than she ever could before.
Our Chicago brain injury attorneys are excited to see the ways how the steady path of technological improvements will continue to change lives down the road.
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