2004 Conference Proceedings

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A Study Of Outcomes Of Assistive Technology (AT) Use In Maine Using The COPM

Lynn Gitlow
Husson College
One College Circle
Bangor, Maine 04401
Phone: 207-9731074
Fax: 207-973-1061
Email: gitlowl@husson.edu

Melissa Meserve
Husson College
RR1 Box 378 Dorman Road
Harrington, Maine 04643
Phone: 207-949-1941
Email: missassim@hotmail.com

This session will present the results of a study investigating the outcomes of AT use by people in the state of Maine using Powerpoint.

The Assistive Technology Act of 1998 defines the term assistive technology devices as any item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities (P. L.105-394, 1998). "For people with disabilities… assistive technology can change the most ordinary of daily activities from impossible to possible" (O'Day, et al., 2000, pg2). As occupational therapists (OT) our concern with assistive technology outcomes is determining whether the use of assistive technology devices has contributed to the client's occupational performance. From an OT perspective occupational performance is a term used to express an individuals ability to carry out tasks related to self-care, self maintenance work/education, play /leisure and rest/relaxation (Baum and Christensen, 1997). Occupational therapists often adapt the environment as a way to ena! ble a person to improve their function in desired tasks. One of the ways that the environment is adapted is through the prescription of AT (Trefler and Hobson, 1997)

Even though it would make sense that AT improves functional ability for people with disabilities, there is little evidence in the literature to support this notion (Olson & DeRuyter, 2001). The National Center for Dissemination of Disability Research has identified the need for systematic studies reporting the outcomes of AT use as one of a research priority. (http://www.ncddr.org/rpp/techaf/lrp_ov.html) This research priority was also recognized by the AT consortium in Maine at its last meeting Dec 17 2002 as one that is important to the state of Maine.

This research project will be the first formalized study in the state of Maine to investigate the outcomes of AT use by Maine citizens who have used the services of Husson College/ UCP Technical Exploration Center (TEC). In considering the recommendation and use of assistive technology in clinical practice it is important to look at effectiveness of our services, what are the outcomes or results of our intervention.

The purpose of the study we will present during this session is to investigate the outcomes of AT use of people who have received AT evaluations by TEC staff. This will be the first study of AT outcomes formally undertaken in the state of Maine (personal communication, Maine AT Consortia December 17, 2003). The hypotheses, which are to be tested, are the following:

  1. People who have had AT evaluations are using recommended AT.
  2. People who are using recommended AT are satisfied with the AT.
  3. The use of AT improves occupational performance in relevant areas.

This research is a non- experimental descriptive study. Subjects will be asked to provide demographic information and complete a survey tool. The Canadian Occupational Performance Measure will be used to examine satisfaction with assistive technology and perceived improvement in occupational performance related to AT use.

The subjects will be recruited from TEC. The subjects for the study will be recruited based on their utilization of AT evaluation services provided by the TEC. Subjects will be included in the study if they have received an assistive technology evaluation by TEC staff. Subjects range in ages and are of both genders. The anticipated number of subjects is 15.

Demographic data, satisfaction with AT and perceived level of occupational performance before and after AT use will be collected. The Canadian Occupational Performance Measure (COPM) is an individualized outcome measure designed for use by occupational therapists (Law, Baptiste, Carswell, McColl, Polatajko & Pollock, 1998.) The measure is designed to detect change in a client's self-perception of occupational performance over time. We will ask the subjects answer the questions on the COPM twice. The first group of answers will be target person's perception of occupational performance before receiving the AT evaluation at TEC. The second round of questioning using the COPM will target the person's perception of occupational performance after receiving the AT evaluations at TEC. Subjects will be asked to identify the AT they are referring to as it relates to occupational performance and satisfaction. The subjects will be assured that no identifying information will be disclos! ed when reporting the findings of the study. SPSS for Windows SPSS for Windows (1999) will be used for statistical analysis of the data. Descriptive data including frequencies and cross tabs analyses will be completed. Because the sample is a convenience sample the sample size is already established.

The potential benefits of this study are to begin to provide evidence that reports how AT affects the occupational performance of people who use AT in Maine. This study will also contribute to the overall body of literature on outcomes related to the use of AT. A Husson College Research Grant was used to fund this study.


Baum and C. Christensen (eds) ( 1997). Occupational Therapy: Enabling Function and Well-being. Thorofare: NJ: Slack

O'Day, B., Brewer, J., Cook, D., King, C., Mendelsohn, S., Pierce, K.,& Vanderheiden, G. (2000) Federal policy barriers to assistive technology. National Council on Disability: Washington, DC [On-line]. Available: http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/publications/assisttechnology.html

Law, M., Baptiste, S., Carswell, A., McColl, A., Polatajko, H., & Pollock, N. (1998). The Canadian Occupational Performance Measure. CAOT Publications.

Olson & DeRuyter( 2001).Clinician's Guide to Assistive Technology (1st Edition), Mosby.

P. L.105-394 (1998) Assistive Technology Act of 1998 Available: http://www.resna.org/ata/ata.txt

SPSS for Windows (1999). Statistical Package for the Social Sciences, Chicago. Trefler, E & Hobson D. (1997). Assistive technology in C. Baum and C. Christensen (eds) Occupational Therapy: Enabling Function and Well-being. Thorofare: NJ: Slack/

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