The amazing recovery of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords from a devastating gunshot wound to the head is a welcome bright spot in the aftermath of the tragic incident in Tucson. Doctors have reported that Rep. Giffords is "beginning to stand with assistance, she is scrolling through an iPad". While Giffords' recovery is astounding given the severity of her injury, the role of the iPad in her therapy is not surprising. Apple's tablet is playing a role in the treatment of patients with a variety of illnesses and injuries, with good results.
Healthcare providers were quick to discover that severely autistic children naturally take to the iPad, and that such interaction was therapeutic. Patients with a variety of disabilities have found the iPad to be a way to interact with the world, and communicate with those providing care in ways not possible before the iPad was introduced into the scenario. Therapists treating those with severe trauma affecting motor control and cognitive skills find the iPad easy for such patients to operate, while other methods fail.
The iPad is a good tool for providing those who cannot speak, such as Rep. Giffords, with a voice to communicate with caregivers and family members. The app Proloquo2Go allows patients to converse normally with others by combining thoughts and phrases represented by easy to tap icons, resulting in coherent sentences spoken aloud in a natural-sounding voice. This app is expensive at $189, but far cheaper than medical appliances that have been used prior to the appearance of the iPad. The app is being used to treat trauma victims, stroke patients and others with the inability to speak.
Doctors have not stated that the iPad will be used in the therapy of Rep. Giffords, but given her progress with the tablet it will not be surprising to hear progress reports detailing its use in her care. May her progress continue rapidly, that she may have a total recovery.