A patient with cerebral palsy can have a variety of different symptoms. The assistive technology for cerebral palsy will be suited to a patient's specific needs and can include simple tools as well as complex computer systems. Some of the more common types of assistive technologies used by these patients include wheelchairs, communication boards, and computers.
Many patients with cerebral palsy have difficulty walking. Patients who are able to use their arms and whose legs are only mildly affected may use braces or crutches in order to assist them as they walk. If a patient cannot walk with this type of assistive technology, a wheelchair may be used instead. Wheelchairs may be human-powered, or they may be motorized and controlled with a joystick or a computer program.
Cerebral palsy can also affect a patient's senses. Patients who have difficulty hearing because of the disorder can use hearing aids or hearing implants, and those with vision problems may need glasses. If a patient is completely blind, a tactile interface, which is a type of assistive technology for cerebral palsy, can be used so that he or she can interact with a computer. Braille may also be used so that a patient can read.
Communication problems are also common in patients with cerebral palsy. Many people with this condition are unable to speak so that others can understand them, though these patients do not usually have cognitive problems. A communication board is a simple piece of assistive technology for cerebral palsy that can help patients express their needs and converse with others. This type of technology usually consists of a booklet filled with pictures or words that the patient can point to instead of speaking the words aloud.
Computers can also be used to help people with cerebral palsy communicate. Some programs function in a way that is similar to a communication board while others may allow patients to type out words letter by letter. If a computer is used as an assistive technology for cerebral palsy, it can also be used to read messages composed by a patient aloud so that the patient can speak with others. Depending on the severity of a patient's cerebral palsy, these computers may be controlled by a number of different means. Some patients are able to use their hands to operate them while others may use movements of the head, neck, or eyes.