Using a Handhelpd Computer as a Cognitive-Behavioral Tool, by Tony Gentry, PhD OTR/L

Dr. Gentry is a recognized expert in the field of assistive technology and cognitive prosthetics.  He recently shared this document with me, and generously granted permission for its distribution.

Intro-to-pda-as-cogaid Gentry 2014-07-28 perm to distribute

This paper answers important questions related to how and why products like Apple’s iPod and iPads and “the growing catalog of Android and Microsoft tablets” are becoming important devices for individuals with cognitive disabilities.  It also provides suggestions when trying to figure out “what to do first.”

  • Remembering to Do Things
  • Task-Sequencing and Wayfinding
  • Social Stories and Behavioral Cues
  • Stress Management
  • Academics, Healthy Living and Beyond

Dr. Gentry’s is the Director of the Assistive Technology for Cognition Laboratory at Virginia Commonwealth University.  His contact information is below:

Tony Gentry, PhD OTR/L
Associate Professor
Director, Assistive Technology for Cognition Laboratory
Department of Occupational Therapy
Virginia Commonwealth University
Room 2050
730 East Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23298

804-828-3397

Obtaining Assistive Technology

I just learned about a resource if you have questions about obtaining Assistive Technology.  Protection and Advocacy for Assistive Technology (PAAT) – Technical Support Center

They are described as “the technical support center for Protection and Advocacy for Assistive Technology (PAAT) projects in the 50 states and 7 territories (6 territories and the Native American project).”

They field inquiries from individuals with disabilities, equipment suppliers, equipment manufacturers, therapists, students, etc., answer questions they already know, and try to help find answers to the questions they don’t know about   They are headquartered in New York and if you are outside New York, they will refer you to the PAAT project in your state (since they may not be familiar with state laws other than NY and their attorneys cannot practice law in any state but New York).

They encourage answering specific questions or raising specific issues. Let me know if you find this to be a helpful resource.  KathyM

 

Voice-to-text voicemail conversion

I use YouMail Visual Voicemail, and it works well for me.  It gives me quick VISUAL access to my voice mail messages.  I am told it increases productivity for many whose speed of processing is slower than it used to be. It also makes voice mail sort-able and See http://www.youmail.com/

 

Everything in ONE PLACE

To function at the level I wish to function, I need all the information I was once able to find in my head, organized in a way I can see it.  For me, that means that all the “bits” I need, have to be visually available and all in one place.  No easy task!

One way to have everything in one place for work tasks and projects is using multiple computer monitors.  Most people do not use this many., but after slowly adding one at a time, this is what I ended up with. For individuals with brain injury who have office jobs, one extra monitor is often helpful and two extra monitors are generally sufficient.  These also fall into the category of “reasonable accommodations.”

The reason all this because they make needed information visually available. I can alternate attention (“switch gears”) and maintain focus without struggle to do the impossible with my unreliable organic brain. Less stress. Less struggle.

Focus with multiple monitors

In days past, one of my most powerful visual resources for keeping “everything” in one place, was my (paper-based) BRAIN BOOK®, which was always open to the central “TODAY” page.  Tabs that organized all the important sections, flared out left and right (see below left).  Many of my students have made their own brain books, either with or without the masters we used for BRAIN BOOK® System.  Let me know if you want a list of the most helpful section headings or Masters for printing insert pages.

BBS Tabs as visual cues

Now my personal My Bionic Brain® does the same thing, but in key-word searchable electronic form on an iPad.  By keeping My Bionic Brain® open to the main TODAY screen, I have my primary visual cues in full view.  Reference Notes, documents, e-mails, TO DO Lists and scheduled tasks and appointments re never lost or “spaced.”  I call it my “BRAIN BOOK on steroids.” And yes, it sits on my desk next to me, along with all the monitors. ♥

For a PDF of the image below: TRI-FOLD brochure

Everything in One Place

Focus and Attention

Staying focused and having strategies for paying attention and alternating attention are important for many kinds of work situations. “Attention training” only goes so far.  We often gain more functional capacity for maintaing and alternating attention when we use visual cues — some can be simple, low-tech tactics like using “Focus (cue) Cards” (below left and/or background cues an individual keeps in sight (below right).  These items qualify as “assistive technology,” despite not being electronic.

      focus clip on desk                                Orientation work MBB screen

My work requires a great deal of alternating attention and “switching gears” — what with managing multiple projects, answering e-mails, teaching and answering the phone.  Multiple computer monitors save the day for me and many others I teach and coach, even if their jobs are not as complicated as mine.  Most people do not use this many monitors.  One extra monitor is often helpful and two extra monitors are generally sufficient.   The reason all these tools work is because they make needed information visually available.

Focus with multiple monitors

In days past, one of my most powerful visual resource was my BRAIN BOOK, which was always open to the central “TODAY page, with tabs that organized all my BRAIN BOOK sections, flaring out left and right (see below left).  Now my personal My Bionic Brain does the same thing, but in electronic form on an iPad.  By keeping My Bionic Brain open to the main “TODAY” screen, I have my primary visual cues (markers) in full view.   TO DO Lists and schedules tasks and appointments re never lost or “spaced.” All my Reference Notes are key word searchable.  Documents are all in one spot. . . I call it my “BRAIN BOOK on steroids.”

BBS Tabs as visual cues                     PIC LIB MBB Unscheduled TO DO List

Newsletter – Cognitive Breaks

Newsletter Cognitive Breaks  Many of us have learned to take one-minute cognitive breaks during our work shift — perhaps one every hour.  If done throughout the work day — before we are so exhausted that we “crash and burn” — many of us can extend our productive hours at work longer and longer every day.  These breaks are in the category of “reasonable accommodations.”  For anyone who wants or needs to be able to work full-time, this strategy can be invaluable.

For details on how this works, download the newsletter from this link:  Newsletter – Cognitive Breaks