Electronic aids to daily living: be able to do what you want

Verdonck MC, Chard G, Nolan M.   Disabil Rehabil Assist Technol. 2011;6(3):268-81. doi: 10.3109/17483107.2010.525291. Epub 2010 Oct 12.

Occupational Therapy, National Rehabilitation Hospital, Rochestown Ave, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin, Ireland. great.sci@gmail.com

PURPOSE:  This study explores the experiences of Irish people with high cervical spinal cord injuries living with electronic aids to daily living (EADL) and the meaning attributed to such systems in the context of participation in everyday life.

METHOD:  Qualitative methodology using a phenomenological approach was used to explore the phenomenon of living with EADL. Data were collected using four focus groups of users and nonusers of EADL (n = 15). All participants had high cervical spinal cord injuries (C3-5). Groups were video recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using descriptive phenomenological analysis.

FINDINGS:  Findings revealed key elements of the meaning of living with EADL. Two key themes, time alone and changed relationships are described. These contribute to the super ordinate theme of autonomy. Findings suggest that participants perceived improvements in both anticipated and actual lived experiences with EADL. Themes are interrelated and together represent a summary of the experience of living with environmental controls. The themes described are similar to those found in other spinal injury studies relating to quality of life.

CONCLUSIONS:  Findings highlight differences in life experiences for those with and without EADL and provides motivation to address this difference. Such insights are valuable for both users and providers of EADL