Horizon-developed assistive technology to provide patients with increased independence, improved access to digital economy

(FREDERICTON) – Horizon researchers are working toward the development and implementation of a new assistive technology which will allow patients with severe mobility limitations to engage more actively in the digital economy.

The devices – designed, developed and tested in-house by a team consisting of a rehabilitation engineer, occupational therapist and research professionals from Horizon’s Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation (SCCR) – are known as ‘twitch and lift’ low-force and low-movement accessible switches.

These switches will allow patients suffering from disabilities impacting muscle strength, such as muscular dystrophy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), to access a simple, user-friendly method of using a computer or digital device.

Additionally, the availability of twitch and lift switches will allow users who do not have enough strength or range of motion to use other assistive technologies to be able to better interact with digital technology for longer periods of time.

The twitch and lift switches represent a ‘plug-and-play’ solution which is easy to use and doesn’t require advanced programming. The switches are compatible with any computer or wireless device operating system using a USB or Bluetooth connection.

“This is a wonderful example of how applied research, conducted within our walls by Horizon employees, is having a direct and significant impact on the wellbeing of our patients,” said Barry Strack, Horizon’s Regional Director of Research Services. “Horizon is committed to promoting a culture where research and innovation can flourish, all for the benefit of the patients we serve – initiatives like this one reflect that commitment, and I’d like to congratulate everyone who had a role in bringing this to fruition.”

The project has secured a total $333,451 in federal funding approved through Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) Accessible Technology Program.

A federal representative was on-site at the SCCR recently to meet with the research team and learn more about this exciting, innovative initiative.

“All Canadians deserve the opportunity to find good jobs, contribute to their community, and build a better life for themselves and their family. This is why our government is proud to support Horizon Health Network investing in new technologies through the Accessible Technology Program,” said the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “This will empower those who are still facing barriers to participate in the digital economy. By working together, we are increasing accessibility and helping Canadians living with disabilities access high-quality equipment to ultimately help them thrive in tomorrow’s economy.”

Horizon was one of 11 organizations across Canada to garner funding through the second phase of the Accessible Technology Program, which supports the development of new assistive and adaptive digital devices and technologies for Canadians with disabilities.

The next phase of the Horizon-led twitch and lift switch project will include the launch of a qualitative study where participants will be provided access to the devices, with their individual user experiences and feedback documented by the research team so the products can best meet the needs of patients moving forward.

About Horizon’s Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation (SCCR)

The SCCR serves New Brunswick residents of all ages with complex neurological conditions who are diagnosed with neurological or neuromuscular disease or injury.

The goal of SCCR is, by including patients as part of the team, to achieve as much independence and self-direction for the patient as possible. 

The facility has offered clinical rehabilitation engineering services to its client base for over 13 years, where custom or existing accessible technology is designed or modified for access to the digital economy for occupational or leisure purposes.

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For more information contact:

Kris McDavid

Media Relations