Use and Availability of Assistive Technology in MS.

TitleUse and Availability of Assistive Technology in MS.
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsJohnson KL, DiGiacomo A, Yorkston KM, Amtmann D
JournalInternational Journal of MS Care

Individuals living with multiple sclerosis (MS) face many barriers to participation in activities they value because of difficulties with mobility, pain, fatigue, and other complications of the disease. Assistive technology (AT) can often help facilitate independence and participation in employment, education, and recreation, but little is known about the prevalence of AT use or unmet AT needs. A 2005 self-administered mail survey asked participants with MS about AT they 1) currently used and 2) needed but did not have. Of the responders (N = 110), the highest use of AT was seen with use of memory aids (68%) or strategies (45%). High use of AT was also seen with walking aids (42%), mobility aids (34%), bathroom aids (41%), and home modifications (36%). Use of vehicle modifications (15%), cooking/eating aids (17%), computer aids (10%), and communication aids (3%) was less prevalent. This study found that individuals who needed assistive devices did not always have them available. Overall, 35% of individuals claimed that they needed assistive devices in at least one category but did not have the device available. The highest need for devices that were not available was for aiding with memory (19%). The next highest categories in which people needed devices but did not have them available were personal/ home aids (16%), vehicle aids (11%), and mobility aids (7%). The results suggest that cognitive aids and strategies that enhance memory are two areas of considerable need for this population. More research and effort is needed to develop efficient devices and strategies that address cognitive issues experienced by individuals living with MS.

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