The iPad is becoming increasingly important to the lives of those with diminished mobility.
The iPad is becoming increasingly important to the lives of those with diminished mobility. Contributed

Therapy goes high-tech

IPADS and Wii Sports programs have become popular therapy tools for helping Australians with disabilities.

Skype has also become important in art and speech therapy while Facebook has enabled support services to keep regular contact with regional clients.

MontroseAccess client services manager Mathilde Backhouse said computers and the internet had become an important tool in helping their clients maintain their studies and social life, especially in regional areas.

Ms Backhouse said social media had enhanced how the service communicated with its 35 clients in the Darling Downs region, which takes in Gatton, Toowoomba, Crows Nest, Chinchilla, Yarraman, Goondiwindi, Warwick and Nanango.

"Almost all clients of suitable age are using social media to connect with our clients and their families and maintain a regular presence should they need us," she said.

"We have a young female client, who lives with a serious physical disability, who creates art pieces and shares them on social media with her friends and growing community of supporters and followers.

"We have another client who is a hip hop artist and shares his performances on YouTube.

"Social media allows them to connect with the wider public and develop a social inclusion."

Her comments come as the ABS this week released statistics showing four million people in Australia reported having a disability (18.5%) in 2009.

Most (87%) people with disability had specific restrictions, meaning they had limitations in self-care, mobility, communication, schooling or employment.

The data showed most young people (92% or 260,000) with a disability aged 15-34 years used the internet in the 12 months before data was collected with almost half (46%) contacting family and friends via the internet at least once a day.

Social media, computers and iPads are particularly important for MontroseAccess clients living with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, which attacks the muscular system and leaves clients increasingly weaker as they get older.

Ms Backhouse said computers and social media had become increasingly important as these clients' mobility diminished.

"There is a worldwide online DMD teenage community who talk to each other about issues that concern or humour them," she said.

"It is a very resourceful community, which provides peer-to-peer support and advice for the teenagers as their bodies become weaker.

"For example, some of our clients struggle with the physical act of handwriting, but are able to type or speak into a microphone to communicate as part of their ongoing studies."

 

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