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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Cerebral Palsy: Common Assistive Technologies

This guide provides resources about Cerebral palsy.

What are assistive technologies?

The Technology Related Assistance to Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988 described an assistive technology device as "any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities."

Assistive technologies can be "high tech" and "low tech:" from canes and lever doorknobs to voice recognition software and augmentative communication devices (speech generating devices).

Technologies for Mobility

While the symptoms and severity of conditions can vary between individuals affected by Cerebral palsy, most of those affected experience some kind of mobility limitation. Some children cannot walk, others can walk with assistance and some may not need support at all.There are many types of assistive mobility technologies that can be used to help individuals who experience mobility limitations.  Some common technologies to consider include the following: 

  • Walkers
  • Non-electric wheelchairs
  • Scooters
  • Electric wheelchairs (with a joystick)
  • Lifts
  • Functional electrical stimulation 

Technologies for Communication

Many children affected by Cerebral palsy experience communication difficulties. According to Cerebral Palsy Guidance, a child "may have muscles in the throat and mouth that are affected by the condition, creating difficulty forming words." Children often work with speech and language therapists to improve communication skills, but they also often use assistive technology, such as:

  • Electronic communication boards
  • Low-tech communication boards
  • Speech-generating devices
  • Eye-tracking devices 
  • Low technology grips or specially designed writing devices, such as a weighted pencil
  • Desk with adjustable height and angle
  • Pointer attached by Velcro to the hand or wrist, allowing an individual to press small buttons on keyboards, tablets, or phones

Technologies to help with daily activities

In addition to the above assistive technologies, these assistive technologies can help individuals be more self-sufficient:  

  • Specialized toilet seats, safety bars and bathing benches
  • Sponges and brushes with longer handles
  • Eating utensils with grips or weighted
  • Plates and bowls with non-slip bottoms
  • Non-skid rugs
  • Dressing aides
  • Tables that can be moved up and down 
  • Adaptive scissors and art supplies
  • Key turners
  • Aids for positioning in bed or on couches and chairs 

Employees with Cerebral Palsy

Finding Assistive Technology