People with paraplegia and tetraplegia return to the community in very high numbers, and one of the things that makes that possible is today's technology. Technology can't repair a damaged spinal cord, but it allows for many other possibilities.
Technology is especially important for people with tetraplegia. Think about what it would be like to be in this situation, and you can begin to understand why -- without the ability to move your arms or legs, it can be nearly impossible to do anything without help. Here are some of the ways that technology can make a difference:
- Battery-powered wheelchairs with incredibly sensitive joysticks make it possible to move around independently. There are even wheelchairs that lift the user into a near-standing position, as well as the iBot balancing wheelchair, which increases mobility tremendously.
- Lifts in cars and buildings make it possible to get in and out easily.
- Ventilators help people with high-level spinal cord injuries, who no longer have the ability to control the muscles in their diaphragm, to breathe. A portable ventilator provides air in that situation.
- Sip and puff straws, which are activated by blowing and sucking air, can help control everything from the phone to the TV.