Hospital Purchases New Technology to Help Patients Find Independence

Hospital Purchases New Technology to Help Patients Find Independence

The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital recently purchased an autonoME system, an integrated environmental control unit and speech-generating device from Accessibility Services, Inc.

The autonoME integrates full environmental control, augmentative and alternative communication and computer access using Windows 10, all in one device. It allows patients to control aspects of their hospital room including bed controls, nurse call, overhead lights, television/DVD player and internet.

The augmentative and alternative communication feature may be accessed through a variety of options including voice, touch screen, eye gaze for pupil movement, switch scanning via sip and puff and auxiliary switches. The device also offers text-to-speech and the use of symbols and/or pictures for functional communication and development.

According to Kristy Hayes, pediatric medical rehabilitation unit therapy manager, The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital, the autonoME system will benefit a variety of patients to include those with spinal cord and brain injuries, cerebral palsy and those with limited use of their arms and hands.

“By using this device, patients will learn all the things they can do despite any physical limitations. Using the autonoME allows patients to control parts of their environment through modifications and technology, that they otherwise would need a caregiver to do for them,” said Hayes.

Where this device assists patients in controlling their environment, the autonoME can also be used to access schoolwork and entertainment. “Patients will have access to the internet, so our special education teachers can help them access schoolwork and word processing documents. We can also upload personalized educational documents specific to their injury, as well as a medical/therapy plan of care,” said Hayes. “Patients also have the ability to access Skype, social media and games!”

The staff at The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital uses the autonoME as another opportunity to show patients that even with their injury or illness, they too can have control over their environment. “This system allows our team to work together to integrate all that’s important to the child and family. Education, socialization, communication, leisure activities, accessibility and independence are provided through one system, providing so many opportunities for the patients and their families,” said Hayes.

The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital received a grant from The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation to purchase the autonoME device. Craig Neilsen established the foundation in 2002 to award grants to a broad spectrum of charities, including those that benefit spinal cord injury efforts.

Neilsen found his passion through his own life experiences, as he too lived with a spinal cord injury. “My dad was the epitome of tireless perseverance,” says Ray Neilsen, Chairman of the Board. “His injury gave him laser-focus, and he became even more successful after the accident. Though my dad’s lifestyle had been altered considerably, his ambition was unchanged.”

The Craig Nelisen Foundation ( is primarily dedicated to funding extensive research, education and quality of life programs for improving the lives of people affected by spinal cord injury.

To learn more about The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital or how to donate click here.

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