Adina Bradshaw, MS, CCC-SLP, ATP, Explains How the Assistive Technology Center at Shepherd Center Helps Patients Regain Independence
As a speech pathologist and assistive technology professional, Bradshaw helps patients reach goals, big and small.
What are the Assistive Technology Center's goals?
Our goals are very patient-focused and individualized. Overall, we want to help patients get back to doing their daily activities. We want to increase independence, increase safety and lessen caregiver challenges.
For a lot of our patients with spinal cord injuries, the goals are to get them back to work, leisure activities, return to school or return to work. We help with computer, TV, cell phone and tablet access. We also help with environmental controls. Some people just want to be able to read or listen to music. Some people just want to be able to check Facebook or drink water on their own.
For our patients with acquired brain injuries, sometimes it’s a communication system that can be low tech, like a letter board, which is a piece of paper with letters or pictures on it, or it could be a complex computer system that has a synthesized voice. We also set people up with call systems so they can call for help inside and outside of the house.
The Assistive Technology Center also includes the wheelchair seating clinic and adapted driving program. We often all work together to find solutions to meet the patient’s needs.
Can you share some of the best parts of your work?
The best part of my work is helping individuals achieve their goals. Just seeing their happiness makes my job incredible. This morning, I had a patient who came in, and he really just wanted to be able to read the news and send emails back to his friends. We tried several different styluses and cell phone mounts. By the end of the session, he wasn’t paying attention to me anymore because he’s just scrolling through a cell phone and reading his emails. And his wife said, “You can’t tell, but this is the happiest he’s been since his injury because he’s independently doing it and he’s not having to ask somebody to read those emails. It gives him a sense of control and independence, and he’s doing something that he was doing in the mornings while he had his coffee.”
When do you see patients?
Every inpatient with a cervical-level spinal cord injury receives assistive technology services. Physicians and therapists will also refer patients to us if they feel the patient would benefit from assistive technology. We want all patients and family members to be educated consumers. We want them to know what’s out there, how it can help them meet their goals, the cost of it and where to purchase it. We want to help them achieve their goals in the most cost-efficient way possible. Unfortunately, most of the equipment in our lab is not funded by insurance. So we try to find ways to help them raise money for the equipment or apply for grants.
Is there a way people can help get technology to patients?
We have some phenomenal donors who have done that in the past. People can contact the Shepherd Center Foundation, and they can say that they want this gift to go towards patient assistive technology equipment. It’s been amazing when they do that, because then the patient doesn’t have to worry about it! We can just send them home with what they need.
Miami University, Oxford, Ohio:
• Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology
• Master’s Degree in Speech Pathology
• Bradshaw also has a teaching certificate, state speech therapy certification, ASHA certification and RESNA assistive technology certification.
• A self-professed and proud nerd at work, she says she and her husband are nerds outside of work, too. They, along with Leah Barid, OT, developed an app called Tetra Alarm for Android that helps people set multiple alarms with ease.
• She loves travel. Their young son, Evan, has been to more than 10 countries with them.
• She’s an animal lover and in an alternate universe would want to be a veterinarian. If it was up to her, she’d have a menagerie at home. As it stands, she has a pug/beagle mix and a lizard.
To make a gift to assistive technology, please contact Cara Roxland at 404-350-7308 or email@example.com or give online at shepherd.org/giving.
Interviewed by Robin Yamakawa
Photos by Louie Favorite
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neurological conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 740 inpatients, nearly 280 day program patients and more than 7,100 outpatients each year in more than 46,000 visits.