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Mult Scler. 2006 Feb;12(1):88-93.

An interdisciplinary approach to evaluating the need for assistive technology reduces equipment abandonment.

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  • 1Italian Multiple Sclerosis Society Rehabilitation Centre of Padua, Italy.


Assistive technology makes up a substantial portion of the direct cost of multiple sclerosis (MS). Equipment abandonment results in the needs of the disabled individual being unmet and places stress on the resources available for the funding of such equipment. The aim of the study was to demonstrate whether an interdisciplinary approach to evaluating and prescribing assistive technology reduces equipment abandonment in persons with MS. Data concerning assistive devices acquired by patients being followed at a rehabilitation centre in northern Italy from January 1997 to December 2002, were included in the study. Through December 1999, a physician in physical medicine and rehabilitation prescribed equipment based on a recommendation from the physical therapist. From 2000 to 2002, patients were evaluated following a standardized protocol implemented by an interdisciplinary team comprised of a physical therapist, occupational therapist, physician in physical medicine and rehabilitation and psychologist. Assistive technology obtained during the study period was divided into two datasets based on the year that the aid was obtained: pre-intervention (January 1997 to December 1999) and intervention (January 2000 to December 2002). The analysis included a comparison of the two datasets on number and types of equipment abandoned, timing of abandonment and reasons why devices were abandoned. Fifty-four subjects obtained 151 assistive devices during the study period, 67 devices during pre-intervention and 84 with the intervention. The majority of devices were abandoned immediately or within the first year following obtainment in both groups. A comparison of the number of devices obtained during pre-intervention with those obtained during the intervention showed that the rate of equipment abandonment decreased significantly from 37.3 to 9.5%. An interdisciplinary approach to evaluating assistive technology needs does decrease the risk of equipment abandonment, although it does not completely solve the problem.

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