What Is Assistive Technology?

Assistive technology is a term for the equipment, systems, and devices that enhance the lives of people with disabling conditions or injuries. This technology can range from writing on a board for communication to using a specialized computer or app designed to help you with daily activities like turning on the television.

At Craig H. Neilsen Rehabilitation Hospital, our rehabilitation specialists will help you identify the technology and devices you need to:

  • communicate with others,
  • use your phone or computer,
  • remember important things,
  • see and hear your surroundings,
  • walk,
  • get back to work or school, and
  • perform other daily activities (such as turning on the lights or closing your window blinds).

Why Choose Neilsen Rehabilitation Hospital?

Neilsen Rehabilitation Hospital at University of Utah Health is one of the few rehabilitation centers built with accessibility in mind. The Assistive Technology Center is an innovation lab that aims to help patients learn how to modify existing technology to suit their individual needs. It also helps patients access technology that will improve how they function and perform daily activities.

As part of an academic medical center, some of the technology we use in our facilities has been developed at University of Utah Therapeutic Games and Applications Lab (GApp Lab) in conjunction with the U of U Health Information Technology team. In this program, graduate students who study entertainment arts and engineering collaborate with the Center for Medical Innovation to develop and produce interactive, medically-focused technology.

Our patients work with a team of multidisciplinary rehabilitation specialists, including: 

  • physicians,
  • nurses,
  • physical therapists,
  • occupational therapists,
  • speech therapists,
  • psychologists,
  • neuropsychologists,
  • rehabilitation educators,
  • care coordinators, and
  • nurse assistants.
Young male patient plays on iPad

Smart Home Technology in Your Hospital Room

At Neilsen Rehabilitation Hospital, you will be able to control the environment in your room with smart home technology. This allows you to use your voice, your eyes, or sip-and-puff technology to control the following:

  • light switches,
  • thermostat,
  • doors,
  • speakers,
  • blinds,
  • bed, and
  • TV.

Types of Traumatic Injuries & Conditions We Treat

The Neilsen Rehabilitation Hospital provides treatment for patients with the following injuries and conditions:

Our Rehabilitation Specialists

Assistive Technology Devices

In addition to basic assistive devices for patients, our facility offers the following advanced technology:

  • Eye gaze technology (using your eyes to use your phone or computer)
  • Voice control software (control devices by speaking)
  • Sip-and-puff technology (sipping or blowing a puff of air into a small wand that looks like a straw to control devices)
  • Virtual reality (enhances a fictional reality) 
  • Augmented reality (enhances a virtual or real-world setting)
  • Adapted game controllers for all levels of ability
  • Training for accessibility features on your phone, tablet, or computer
  • Robotics (assist with feeding and upper body movement such as your arms)

Our adaptive video game systems and controllers and virtual reality (VR) systems help patients with recovery and education. We use VR systems to help patients improve their balance and coordination and help them with attention and problem-solving skills.

Custom 3D-Printed Devices

We use 3D printing technology to create custom devices, such as:

  • orthotics (customized forms to help with foot, heel, or lower body pain),
  • braces (a device to support a weak or injured part of your body),
  • power wheel joysticks,
  • adapted video game controllers,
  • utensil holders, and
  • wheelchair break extenders.

Picture of power wheelchair joystick

Outpatient Programs

After you are discharged, you will still have access to a wide range of assistive technology devices and programs through the Neilsen Rehabilitation Hospital. That includes:

  • Adaptive sports equipment — You can use the equipment indoors to get more comfortable with it, then rent it to take outdoors. The program includes equipment for skiing, water sports, cycling, swimming, and tennis. Equipment and rentals go through the Technology Recreation Access Independence Lifestyle Sports (TRAILS) program.
  • Virtual fitness classes — Join fitness classes online and work out with others from the comfort of your home. Classes include adaptive movements and modifications for all fitness and skill levels.
  • Digital wellness classes — Join livestream and on-demand classes for your overall wellness and health.
  • Rehabilitation education — These classes help you understand your injury or condition and mobility challenges. You will get in-depth education about your injury and possible complications and considerations. We will also connect you to resources that will help you and your family feel knowledgeable and empowered.

Rehabilitation Hospital Admission Process

If you would like to be admitted to the Neilsen Rehabilitation Hospital, you will first meet with a liaison to determine if you meet the criteria for inpatient care. The liaison can answer any questions related to insurance coverage or costs and will reach out to your insurance provider to request authorization. 

If you are admitted, you must be:

  • medically stable,
  • in need of inpatient services and 24-hour rehabilitation nursing care, and
  • able to participate in therapy services for at least three hours a day,

Once you are approved for admission, you will work with our care coordinators to arrange transportation to the hospital and have your records sent to our care team. Before you arrive, please view our list of items to pack for your stay.

If you don’t meet the criteria for inpatient admission, you may be able to work with our therapists and rehabilitation specialists in the Assistive Technology Center on an outpatient basis.

Meet With a Rehabilitation Specialist

Call 801-646-8000 to learn more about Neilsen Rehabilitation Hospital or schedule an appointment with one of our liaisons. Physicians and providers can also refer patients to the program.