Spinal cord injury (SCI) commonly occurs when individuals are forming their vocational goals, resulting in low post-injury employment rates and higher costs to society. Individuals with SCI who are employed have improved quality of life. Assistive technology, often available at modest cost, can help individuals with SCI to compensate for functional limitations, overcome barriers to employability, enhance technical capacities and computer utilization, and improve ability to compete for gainful employment.
Studies have shown that return to work for individuals after a spinal cord injury are low. Other studies have shown that individuals with SCI who are employed report a better quality of life. One barrier to returning to work is a decreased scope of work skills due to physical limitations from the SCI. The purpose of this study was to demonstrate the successful return to work of three individuals with SCI using assistive technology and computer adaptations.
One individual received his evaluation in an acute rehabilitation center. One individual was evaluated at his workplace. The other setting for the third case study was not specified in the article.
Three males with SCI ages 23, 27, and 41. All three had cervical level injuries to include C3, C6, and C7.
Each individual received a computer accommodation evaluation that guided the selection of the assistive technology.
Computer accommodation evaluation by the State Vocational Rehabilitation Department by a rehabilitation engineer and occupational therapist. All individuals were provided with computer accommodations as recommended by the evaluations. Each of the three participants received individualized accommodations.
There was no control or comparison condition.
Assistive technology can help individuals with SCI to compensate for functional limitations, overcome barriers to employability, enhance technical capacities and computer use, and improve ability to compete for employment.
The authors conclude that an important goal for SCI rehabilitation includes maximizing vocational potential including the evaluation and application of computer and assistive technology.