Ipad Becoming New Therapy for Cerebral Palsy Patients

IpadAn unconventional new therapy technique could help children born with cerebral palsy in various ways. The iPad and other touchscreen tablets offer a great alternative to typical computers for children who suffer from mobility and communication difficulties due to cerebral palsy. Touchscreens are easier to handle and navigate, and there are more than 40,000 apps available geared toward individuals with disabilities. Apps for people with disabilities can assist caregivers, parents, teachers, and therapists in countless ways and offer children with cerebral palsy a valuable avenue for learning and skill-building.

The Value of the Touchscreen

Touchscreen technology is incredibly accessible and does not require the same level of fine motor control as handling a traditional keyboard and mouse for a PC. There are also thousands of touchscreen-equipped devices available, and many people without disabilities use these devices every day. An iPad or other tablet device can not only be therapeutic in terms of learning motor skills and cognitive development, but it can also help a child with cerebral palsy feel like part of the in-crowd.

Learning to master digital devices is a typical part of an early school curriculum for most children today, and a child with cerebral palsy will likely have an easier time managing a tablet than a traditional PC. Touchscreens do not require the same level of fine motor function as a keyboard and mouse and are available in many sizes, but tablets like iPads tend to be easier to manage than smaller devices like smartphones for children with diminished fine motor skills or limited range of motion.

Encouragement and Engagement

Children with cerebral palsy appreciate feeling on par with their peers, and touchscreen devices like iPads and tablets can help bridge that gap. Parents of children with cerebral palsy who have invested in iPads and other touchscreen tablets generally report improvements in their children’s fine motor skills, language development, and communication skills thanks to accessible and engaging apps and educational games.

Consider the example of a young boy named Noah; at the age of two, Noah’s cognitive and motor skills were about 12 months behind other children his age. After receiving his iPad, Noah’s parents reported a significant jump in his fine motor and communication skills. They now report that Noah is on par with his peers after just a few short months of working with an iPad.

There are several ways an iPad can help a child with cerebral palsy. The first is communication. Prior to the advent of touchscreen tablets, touch-to-voice technology was very expensive and inaccessible. Apps like Yes|No and Assistive Chat allow individuals with limited verbal capability to find a voice and express their needs and wants. Children who suffer from diminished hearing due to cerebral palsy can use apps like soundAmp to amplify different sounds and adapt to different situations. Assistive technologies on iPads are affordable, accessible, engaging, and effective for many children with a variety of cerebral palsy symptoms.

iPads as Educational Tools

Other apps may appear to be simple learning games at first, but they are much more to children with cerebral palsy. Even kids who struggled to learn basics like the alphabet see significant leaps in cognitive ability after working with a tablet for a few months. Children with cerebral palsy often struggle with visual shifting, or focusing on one thing and then another to complete a task. With a traditional mouse and keyboard, this would involve looking at the screen to see the problem or task at hand, then shifting to looking at the keyboard and/or mouse to complete the necessary input, and then finally looking at the screen again to verify that input and complete the task.

An iPad or other touchscreen tablet allows a child with cerebral palsy to see the immediate effects of his or her input in real-time with minimal visual shifting. This can help children stay engaged with tasks that would otherwise frustrate them without accessible input technology like a touchscreen. Ultimately, a tablet device can help a child with cerebral palsy feel more on par with his or her peers and less like an outsider, a common feeling among individuals who struggle with physical and cognitive disabilities from cerebral palsy.

Teachers, therapists, parents, and caregivers can find a plethora of apps available for children with disabilities and work tablet time into a child’s daily routine. They can also find tools to track development, behavior, and learning milestones. Perhaps the most valuable aspect of touchscreen tablets for kids with cerebral palsy is that these devices naturally encourage learning in an engaging format.

Parents of children with cerebral palsy should consider the various ways touchscreen tablet devices can help their kids feel connected with their peers and learn at their own pace in an engaging way. Tablets are also far more affordable and accessible than traditional assistive technologies that do not offer the same level of engagement and fun for kids with cerebral palsy. If a child is struggling to reach milestones for his or her age group, parents should consider the ways an iPad or other tablet device could help.