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Scheduling aids

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Scheduling Aids for People with Cognitive Disablilites

When an individual has a cognitive disability, a variety of different technologies are available to assist in performing activities of daily living (ADLs). An array of scheduling aids can help someone with a cognitive disability keep track of their daily activities and may give them more independence. These assistive technology tools range from generalized technologies to a variety of specialized, computerized memory aids. The scheduling aids take advantage of visual cues, audio cues, timers, event markers signifying the beginning and end of a task, or a combination of these modes to remind someone of a task to be done.

Generalized Scheduling Aids

A few modern technologies that are made available to the general public can be useful tools to act as scheduling aids. A personal data assistant and a cell phone are very useful and contain built-in functions that can be used to help an individual with a cognitive disability keep on task. These functions include a calendar, appointment alarms, to-do lists, and contact information. It is especially valuable to have audible alarms to prompt individuals of events on their schedule. [1]

Scheduling Aid Technologies Specialized for Individuals with Cognitive Disabilities

WatchMinder

The WatchMinder is a watch that can be programmed with messages and daily alarm times to help someone remember the his or her daily tasks. When the alarm goes off, the message will be displayed on the screen and the watch vibrates for 2.5 seconds to notify the wearer. This device contains 57 message reminders and 16 daily alarms that can be programmed for the day. [2]

WatchMinder
WatchMinder

QuarterHour Watch

The QuarterHour Watch acts as a prompter and time management tool. It is intended for individuals who are unable to tell time. Pictures are programmed for different events to remind the person what they are supposed to do. There are lights on the device that represent 15 minutes each. The lights are lit up to signify how much time is remaining until the event. For instance if there is 45 minutes until the task will occur, three of the lights are dark and 5 of the lights are lit. When all the lights are on then it is time for the event. The picture that appears is on an impact resistance plastic chip which is inserted in the back of the device and is programmed to appear at certain time. [3]

QuarterHour Watch
QuarterHour Watch

TimePAD

TimePAD is designed to use audio cues as reminders. Five messages, up to 72 seconds in duration, can be programmed into the device. A built-in timer is used to play the reminders as specified times. The device also has a digital clock display. [3]

TimePAD
TimePAD

Software to be used on PDAs

Different schedule and memory aid software systems have been designed to be used on personal data assistants (PDAs). These devices are portable. Depending on the system, some have verbal, visual, or a combination of verbal and visual cues to remind someone of an event. These software systems are specialized to people with cognitive disabilities and can be personalized to the individual. Community Integration Suite is produced by AbleLink Technologies, Inc. It is marketed as a prompter that cues a user when to begin a task with audio and custom pictures. Caregivers can set-up events to be daily, weekly, or monthly. The Pocket Coach is another software system for a PDA. Messages, prompts, and instructions for a task can be programmed by a caregiver to be played back in sequence or as a verbal to do list. Step-by-step routines can be programmed into the device and the user can play that sequence of tasks and can select done when the task is complete. The Pocket Compass is a third software system to be used on a PDA. It is capable of holding custom audio, custom pictures, timers, play modes, and the ability to create decision points in a task. This device works similarly to the other systems. For all of these devices typically a caregiver will program the events, but then the user can gain the independence of not relying on another individual to remind them constantly of their schedule. [3]

Community Integration Suite
Community Integration Suite
Pocket Coach
Pocket Coach
Pocket Compass
Pocket Compass

Planning and Execution Assistant and Trainer (PEAT)

Collaboration with NASA lead to the development of the software for the Planning and Execution Assistant and Trainer (PEAT). [4] PEAT uses artificial intelligence to automatically generate daily plans and to replan in response to unexpected events. [5] Appointments are programmed into the device and a library of ADL scripts are stored in the software. Then based on user input, the device can generate the best execution plan for the user and aid in following the required tasks through auditory and visual cues. [5] This helps the individual to stay on task and follow their schedule for the day.

Planning and Execution Assistant and Trainer (PEAT)
Planning and Execution Assistant and Trainer (PEAT)

The ISAAC System

The ISAAC System is a small cognitive aid that is portable. It has a touchscreen with graphic messages or audio prompts that act as reminders to the user. When a message appears to remind the individual of an event on their schedule, they can acknowledge the message by touching the screen. The system logs the users performance so a therapist can then keep track of the user’s progress and can adjust the prompts as necessary. [3]

The Jogger

The Jogger is another small portable PDA that is specialized to act as a cognitive aid. It’s features include a touch screen, behavioral prompts, voice prompt, buzzer, LED readout on color display, or a combination of cue modes. The Jogger can also transmit the users responses to the therapist to track whether or not the user is following their schedule. [3]

Jogger
Jogger

Research

Multiple research studies have been conducted to explore the use of scheduling aids for people with cognitive disabilities. Listed below are a few of the published papers found in the literature.


• Kim HJ et al. Electronic memory aids for outpatient brain injury: Follow-up findings. Brain Injury 2000; 14(2):187-196.

• Gillette Y, Depompei R. Do PDAs enhance the organization and memory skills of students with cognitive disabilities. Psychology in Schools 2008; 45(7):665-677.

• LoPresti EF, Mihailidis A, Kirsch N. Assistive technology for cognitive rehabilitation: State of the art. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation 2004; 14(1/2):5-39.

• LoPresti EF et al. Distributed cognitive aid with scheduling and interactive task guidance. JRRD 2008; 45(4):505-521

References

[1] Gillette Y, Depompei R. Do PDAs enhance the organization and memory skills of students with cognitive disabilities. Psychology in Schools 2008; 45(7):665-677.

[2] Cognitive Disability. Ability Hub. Accessed on Oct 5, 2009.

[3] Cognitive Aid. ABLEDATA. Accessed on Oct 5, 2009.

[4] NASA. Scheduling Accessory Assists Patients with Cognitive Disorders. Accessed on October 5, 2009

[5] LoPresti EF et al. Distributed cognitive aid with scheduling and interactive task guidance. JRRD 2008; 45(4):505-521.