From the bench to the bedside, and from the operating room to the waiting room, technology plays an important role at every stage of care. Computerised manufacturing, rehabilitation robotics and 3D printing are just a few of the tools being used by the Assistive Technology and Seating Service to optimise and configure technology to benefit patients.
The service, based at Macquarie Hospital, supports patients with spinal cord injuries and other conditions where patients have needed a wheelchair for primary mobility. Headed by Iain Brown, Senior Rehabilitation Engineer, the Assistive Technology and Seating Service team works in inpatient, outpatient, community and rural settings across NSW.
“The Assistive Technology and Seating Service is an interdisciplinary team, which is critical to how the service operates and delivers services,” said Iain.
“We are a clinical service, but the integrated technical expertise enables us to be more effective in the interventions we can offer.”
The team uses 3D printers to manufacture various technologies, including mounts for drinking systems and communications devices, custom components to enable greater independence, such as enema inserters and custom wheelchair controllers for those with a spinal cord injury.
“The ability to adjust equipment, to modify, and even to fabricate custom components as required to meet individual needs allows us to be incredibly specific in our care,” said Iain.
“Moreover, our patients are integral contributors in the clinical process, being able to provide direct experience about their individual needs and circumstances and helping to refine solutions accordingly.”
John Moxon first heard about the service 27 years ago when he was having trouble finding a suitable wheelchair cushion. Reflecting on his experience, he believes that the service gave him the means to keep working full-time until he was almost 70 years old, and then to remain independent for many years after that.
“Over the years, the team has provided advice and support around my wheelchair seating requirements as they have changed with the purchase of different wheelchairs and the changes to my body as I have aged,” John said.
The Assistive Technology and Seating Service has also provided John occupational therapy advice regarding commode and shower wheelchair purchases, subsequent modifications to improve the functionality of his wheelchairs, and appropriate cushions for those wheelchairs.
“All of the staff whom I have met over the years have been highly professional, efficient, and outcomes-focused.
“I have no doubt that the staff at the service have saved me, on numerous occasions, from developing skin breakdown issues that would have led to prolonged hospital stays.
“I would recommend the service to all who are eligible to access its services – correct seating and posture can save a person from many months in hospital.”
If you would like to find out more about the Assistive Technology and Seating Service, please visit:
- Assistive Technology & Seating – Macquarie Hospital | Mon-Fri: 9am-5pm