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Multiple Sclerosis and Assistive Technology


A sizeable proportion of the young population is affected by the multiple sclerosis thereby predisposing them to a bleak future due to the progressive functional losses occasioned by the attacks on the nervous system (Blake & Bodine, 2002, p.299). Multiple sclerosis refers to the degenerative nerve disease that is characterised by a variety of common symptoms such as chronic fatigue, convulsions, lethargy and cognitive impairment. The focal disorders result due to injuries to the cranial nerves, brain and to a large extent the spinal cord (Gentry, 2008, p. 18). The condition is caused by a constellation of factors that are of genetic, infectious and environmental origin. Despite this knowledge and immense empirical studies, no definitive aetiology has been isolated and confirmed as the major cause of the condition. According to Gentry (2008, p.299), the lack of specific and effective therapeutic intervention has made physicians to embrace rehabilitative interventions among the young adults with the aim of curtailing the progression. The term paper critically appraises the article, discusses its importance to people with disabilities and illuminates the relation between assistive technology and occupation.

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Critical Appraisal of the article in relation to Evidence-Based Practice

The main objective of the research was to evaluate the effects of assistive technology to people with multiple sclerotic related disabilities. The occupational therapy training utilised personal digital assistants (PDAs) as the preferred assistive technology to help alleviate the cognitive impairment. The application of client centred practice and the diffusion of innovations theory was imperative since they served to capitalise on the strengths of the participants. Utilisation of rehabilitative therapy was also a key strength to the research since its main outcome was based on repetition of the cognitive behaviours. This theory also helped guiding the provision of learning materials and the integration of new and earlier learned materials. The assessments of the performance at intervals are important and in tandem with theories of occupational therapy and practice. The demonstration of the ability to acquire cognitive aspects through learning is a clear pointer of the efficacy of the PDAs over other forms of intervention (Gentry, 2008, p.299-306).

The usage of diverse measuring instruments ensures credibility of the collected data while keeping all the participants on board. This is in tandem with the tenets of the evidence based practice. The choice of the participants who had prior experience with cognitive aids enhanced the comparative analysis with the prior evidence based practices (Pedretti & Early, 2001). There is need for further research to ascertain the extent of influence offered by the training and other confounding factors in the utilisation of the PDAs. This is important since it will authenticate the results provided by this research. The study ought to follow the participants for more than 8 weeks after the training in order to ascertain the long term impact of the intervention. The client centred approach was instrumental in ensuring cognitive improvements after utilisation of the PDAs. Evidence based practice of occupational therapies denote that utilisation of digital devices is more beneficial than paper work. This study relies on that premise to achieve its objective.

How can individual with disability benefit from assistive technology?

Devices such as manual chairs and walkers are useful in increasing mobility of the individuals with disabilities. It is therefore worth noting that the devices are pivotal in increasing the overall output of the individuals. They lower their dependency levels thereby allowing improved productivity in the carers and themselves. According to Blake and Bodine (2002, p.296), the customised or modified equipments are also designed to maintain the functions of the individuals. The uses of assistive technologies in voice output and in boosting eyesight are instances where the body functions are maintained.

The assistive technologies enhance the decrease and elimination of physical and other sensory activities limitations. The minimisation of visual impairments and hearing losses by utilisation of eye patches and hearing aids respectively is a common phenomenon in modern society. The availability of coloured overheads and magnifiers are also beneficial since they help improve the visualisation of the reading materials. The screen reader software, the latest invention that acts to read aloud the text material displayed on the computer screen, is helpful to people with almost total visual impairments (Blake & Bodine, 2002, p. 299-305). Participants’ restrictions are also decreased through the provision of suitable assistive technologies. The availability of daily living aids such as pull carts are vital in the accomplishment of daily chores particularly fetching of groceries from shops within the neighbourhood.

More importantly, the assistive technologies offer the people with disabilities an essential component that ensures they have access to social amenities. Access to the labour market is enhanced while participation in the normal education process is boosted. These devices are therefore imperative in ensuring equality in the access to opportunities and in participation in the economy and society at large.

Relation of assistive technology to occupation

The invention and continued utilisation of machines in industries has boosted productivity. However, the machines are a major cause of disabilities particularly in the work place. Impairments and immobility result from multiple sclerosis caused by environmental factors in the work place. Spinal cord and brain injury is mainly as a result of physical knocks or exposure to harmful radiations. The risk levels to the injuries varies with the type of occupation a person indulges in, with industrial and construction workers at a higher risk than white collared workers (McColl & Pranger, 1994, p.250-9).

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The issue of assistive technology come into play when disability occurs at the workplace. People involved in the industrial accidents must be provided with these devices in order to maintain their functional capabilities. Sometimes, the workers are forced to leave or switch to other occupations depending on the severity of the disability. The assistive technologies such as PDAs are overly useful in increasing the output of the disabled people. According to Gentry (2002, p.18-22), the assistive technologies provide a better cognitive aiding technique thus shortening the duration of the rehabilitation while improving productivity. Assistive technologies are also useful tools of maintaining the output of experienced workforce in a particular occupation. For instance, a visually impaired lecture can utilise visual aids in sharing the immense knowledge with the students.


Assistive technologies have proved vital in the alleviation of suffering endured by people with disabilities caused by multiple sclerosis. Evidence based practice has found useful application in the utilisation of PDAs as cognitive aids. The theories and models utilised in the study are helpful in understanding the relationship between performance and the interventions (McColl & Pranger, 1994, p.250-9). Assistive technology is important to people with disabilities and is closely related to occupations due to the associated risks at the workplace. Assistive technologies should be embraced in order to improve productivity of the workers.

Reference list

Blake, D. & Bodine, C. (2002). An overview of assistive technology for persons with multiple sclerosis. Journal of Rehabilitative Research and Development, 39(2), 299-312.

Gentry, T. (2008). PDA as cognitive aids for people with multiple sclerosis. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 62, 18-27.

McColl, M. & Pranger, T. (1994). Theory and practice in the occupational therapy guidelines for client-centred practice. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 61(5), 250-9.

Pedretti, L. & Early, M. (2001) Occupational Therapy: Practice Skills for Physical Dysfunction. 5th eds. St. Louis: C. V. Mosby Company.

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