Occupational therapists focus on increasing or maintaining functional independence, quality of life, and engagement in meaningful occupations, such as gardening, playing games with children, or walking a dog. For centuries, assistive devices have been utilized, with some evidence of walking canes being used as early as 1670. With technology rapidly advancing, assistive devices are used more now than ever before. Assistive devices and technology are pieces of equipment used to promote an individual's independence and improve functioning to participate in occupations. For example, assistive devices and technology include walking canes, prostheses, visual aids, hearings aids, wheelchairs, specialized computer software and hardware that increase mobility, and many more. Assistive devices and technology can promote independence and functionality in all people, including those with disabilities.
Occupational therapists work with clients to develop and create assistive devices and technology that best fits their needs to perform an activity or occupation optimally. Occupational therapists look at the complex interplay of factors such as the client's skills or abilities, the demands of the occupation, and the environment's barriers. By determining specific factors, including strengths and limitations with an individual's performance, assistive devices tailored to a client's unique needs can be developed to improve functional ability.
Occupational therapists working with clients to develop and implement an assistive device or technology are recommended to:
-ensure a client-centred process that highly involves the client's input
-practice safe and effective use of devices with clients
-be transparent with clients about any issues that may restrain or limit the client's autonomy
-educate clients on the relevance and importance of assistive devices and technologies