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Thoughts on Communicating About Improving Communication on the Computer

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Working for a hospital affords opportunities to see different things. The fact that I, myself, am a brain injury survivor has colored my world view such that I would like to see more done with expanding the use of computer mediated communication technologies in the rehabilitation and recovery processes.

Recently I submitted a paper for a conference just because the Call For Participation (CFP) was forwarded to me because I guess I’m somewhat passionate about my idea of “wouldn’t it be a neat idea if more people were using computer mediated communication more?” The conference was something about e-learning as applied in a multi-disciplinary approach. Supposedly there is a Journal of Systemics Cybernetics and Informatics.  I threw together the paper about my idea and submitted it virtually for the conference. My writing style is somewhat casual, I feel, but one never knows if there will be ripples made by tossing the pebble into the pond.

One of the people with whom I communicate frequently tells me that someone will contact me about wanting to conduct a research project based on my little idea. I’m less certain that it will happen. Sure, I have specific ideas of groups of patients that I feel would benefit. Yes, I would like to use leading edge commercially available technology to improve the quality of life, and increase the patient satisfaction. Currently, the device space is occupied by the Apple iPad, and not much else at present, but that could soon change.

The Wall Street Journal has done a number of articles mentioning how the iPad seems to have anecdotal evidence saying how the iPad user interface is easier to comprehend for some autistic children. Another source of interesting articles recently has been a series done by NPR (National Public Radio) on the increasing rates of traumatic brain injury among soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. There has been research and documentation that people with a brain injury seem to be at increased likelihood of sustaining another brain injury. Brain Injuries frequently have cumulative effects.

In an ideal world, I might be able to function as a guide to a group of ten or so patients for a pilot study to demonstrate the effectiveness of this method of using computer mediated communications to enhance the perceived well being of the patients. I wouldn’t think that there should be problems, but some may happen. I would think that for several of the pilot patients, the opportunity to communicate with others not focusing on the physical disabilities should be highly enjoyable. If the program were to be successful, expanding the use of computer mediated communication to other groups would be very beneficial.

Getting people to make use of computer mediated communications requires a certain comfort level with using the computer, and the information on the internet. To my mind, as a librarian, it’s a no-brainer, but I am sure that there are those who do not feel comfortable. So, some structured time of internet exploration would probably be beneficial. I do not see this being needed for very long, but who knows what would really be required?

As I understand things, having the iPad commercially available at a reasonable price point should make this project even more able to move forward without a lot of fuss. Not that this project has been particularly limited to any particular hardware configuration. When I started looking at the available literature for evidence of computers being used with rehabilitation, there was an article out of a North Carolina summer camp study on how the use of computers helped engage some of the disabled youths. My initial hardware solution was the typical PC, Monitor, keyboard, mouse, modem, phone line. Technology has certainly advanced well.

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About Marty Salo

  • Interesting. I think your focus on the ipad, or any other tablet for that matter should be focussed upon. Its a simple form factor that can be easily manipulated and repositioned for comfort. I would imagine that when it is used in relation to mental impairment it would depend on the patient. My autistic son can find his way around a computer and is not “frightened” of technology and for some autistic children the fact that they can find relevant information without the need for, what can be, daunting human interaction is certainly a step forward. What can be key, and sometimes difficult, is to remove the autistic child from the parent while being taught. It can’t always be done, I know, but I truly believe that the parent can sometimes stun the learning process because of their caution and need to protect their child. I am very interested to hear and learn more….