We are living in a technological world. They key thing to remember is that technology is a tool. When trying to accomplish something, progress or even just have a helping hand as you try to improve yourself, technology, technology benefit the lives of everyone but especially of people who are the victims of Acquired Brain Injuries or indeed any disability. In my case, it is safe to say that I am able to use technology as I do not have any sensory issues regarding lights, but if you do, it might be better to stick to technology that does not operate an LCD screen. Here are some of the different types of technologies I have used to good effect post-ABI and the ways it has helped me.
- The Right Computer – When it comes to technology it is all about finding what works for you. It is about deciding exactly what you will be using your computer for. Since my ABI and as someone who would consider themselves IT literate but by no means an expert, I would suggest that simplicity is the key. Since I left university I have been using Apple products mainly for this reason. Apple and other similar products from other manufacturers have a very simple user interface, automatic updates to keep the machine and the software fully optimized as well as the ability to buy, download and install new software with a few mouse clicks. My computer, an Apple Mac being my choice, also makes things such as managing email, contacts, storing music and photos extremely easy to access and use. Virtual sticky notes are extremely useful for reminders and keeping information easily accessible.
- Smart Phones– If I could say one thing it’s that the emergence of Smart phones into the mainstream has enabled and encouraged people to engage with technology in a way that makes organization and connectivity easier and simpler than it has ever been. As well as far larger storage enabling the user to receive emails, calls or texts almost anywhere at any time, the development of Smart Phone Applications enabling the use of Social Media such as Facebook and Twitter only increase the ability to contact one another which for victims of ABI or TBI can only be a good thing (whether this is a bad thing or a good thing for the world at large is another question). It is not only the more advanced technology that smart phones offer that makes them such an asset. The simpler workings of the older mobile phones that pre-existed the smart phone such as alarms and reminders remain but with a much simpler touch screen interface. All of these attributes combined means that with a Smart Phone we essentially are walking around with a mini computer in our pockets. Especially with the emergence of…
- Smart Phones Applications (Apps) – New applications – or Apps- are now being developed on a daily basis across the world. It is fairly safe to say that whatever your need may be, you can expect that there will be an App already available or being produced to help you on your way. The range of Apps and the range of their purpose is huge and can really be utilized to help anyone in their day to day life but can really be useful for Brain Injury patients. It can be as simple as a listing App to write the weekly shopping list, there are apps for scheduling and timetabling for those of us whose recovery is a more structured and regimented daily routine and finally there are the more advanced Apps that are for specific purpose. As an example, I am currently on something of a fitness regime involving diet and exercise. There are Apps which when you provide them with measurements and lifestyle details, they can guide you regarding advised daily calorie intake, exercise and nutritional information of certain foods.
- Dictaphones & Recording Devices – These are extremely useful pieces of kit. A good quality digital Dictaphone and Surround Sound Microphone that allows a good standard of recording and a piece of computer software where you can transfer the audio files to listen to again at your leisure should definitely be on a list of items to buy for any ABI patient or any carer. While they are an expensive investment (but don’t have to be!), also happen to be a worthwhile long-term one. I have had my Dictaphone and Microphone for six years and having received a good quality one from a trusted and established developer, it still works as well today as it did when I took it out of the box all that time ago.
They are particularly useful for patients and carers alike during the meetings with doctors, consultants’, legal representatives and social workers that come with the aftermath of ABI. They also come in handy later on if a patient should enter education or employment post-ABI, allowing them to save energy by allowing the Dictaphone to record the talks and not concentrate on physically taking notes, but focus on engaging with the situation and the people around them.
- Dictation & Voice Recognition Software – Another useful bit of gear. Again, similar to the Dictaphone in that the outlay is big but the rewards are great. On the market for the last few years there has been software available which when installed on the computer and combined with a special Microphone headset enables the user to dictate into the microphone what they want to write as opposed to typing. These types of software can be used to compensate for many issues regarding literacy that often occur post ABI.
Moreover, the program also has a set of verbal commands that allows the user to edit the piece of writing orally and aurally. This can be a good way to increase productivity as well as reduce the fatigue often induced by sat staring at a computer screen as well. Also, this software adjusts to the voice of the user and becomes easier and more user friendly as you continue to use it.
My life was changed for ever on the 30th of August 2009 when an attack on a night out left me with sever brain injuries. I was left in an induced come after suffering fractures to the skull, bleeds on the brain, as well as severe bruising to the frontal lobes. Since the injury I have found it hard to find and keep work, to maintain relationships, and generally stay positive. I have decided to share all of my journey with you, in the hope we can bring brain injury awareness to the level it should be at. Please, follow my own WordPress blog (listed above) to keep up to date with my brain injury journey!
Headway Tips for coping with ABI effects:
- For lack of or ability to concentrate
You can use your smartphone in many ways: Your phone’s “record” function can allow you to record your meetings with your GP, statutory service advisors and many others, so that you are able to refer back to them later on in the day.
- For keeping track and issues with short term memory
Your phone can become a notepad – useful for keeping track of shopping lists and daily to-do lists, easy to cross off when needed.
- For making sure you are on time
Most modern phones have the ability to set up appointments on a calendar, which means that you can set up alerts and reminders for you or someone in your care to be present at a certain time and place for a certain activity or event.
- For keeping track of your money
Computers are great tools for making sure you keep track of your finances and of making sure you are always paying your bills. Simple spreadsheets can help you plan ahead and make sure you know exactly how much money is going where. This helps a lot people with personal budgets from the local authorities who might forget about paying bills or budgeting for day to day living.
At Headway Worcestershire, we partner up with local businesses who are able to be part of The Work Train, a project that aims to encourage the use of technology for day to day living to improve chances of getting a job or managing own finances.
About the author
My life was changed for ever on the 30th of August 2009 when an attack on a night out left me with sever brain injuries. I was left in an induced coma after suffering fractures to the skull, bleeds on the brain, as well as severe bruising to the frontal lobes. Since the injury I have found it hard to find and keep work, to maintain relationships, and generally stay positive. I have decided to share all of my journey with you, in the hope we can bring brain injury awareness to the level it should be at. Please, follow my own WordPress blog Life After Brain Injury to keep up to date with my brain injury journey! Follow me on Twitter: @ABIBlogger
Tom Massey, ABI Blogger