Often the Occupational and Rehabilitation Therapist need to step into the path of the Vocational Therapist.
They are called upon to suggest methods to enhance skills in the workplace. Teaching keyboarding is one of the most basic, and useful skills needed to succeed in the workplace. In addition, practicing the keyboard can help your clients regain or improve motor skills in their hands.
First and foremost evaluate by asking: CAN THE PATIENT USE A STANDARD KEYBOARD? If they can, then this should be the first option that should be pursued. When alternative devices are main-streamed in the workplace, then, and only then, should they be suggested to a person who CAN easily use the tools common in the workplace, such as a normal keyboard.
My experience with occupational, rehabilitation and vocational therapists in working with a person who has lost the use of one hand, is they tend to suggest one hand alternative keyboards, or the Dvoark keyboard overlay.
They have done the research, and read the literature: these systems as easier and faster. Speaking as a person who had to learn to type with one hand, I agree: easier and faster - but certainly not better, nor smarter!
When the one handed person returns to the workplace, having spent weeks being trained on a one handed keyboard, they see many other two handed people using the old "hunt and peck." They set up their special one handed keyboard. Then the person at the next desk needs some help, or our one handed person needs advise on a task. Neither can use the others keyboard. Very quickly our one handed person discovers they can hunt and peck with one hand just as fast as the two handed person! So, why use a piece of equipment that makes them feel like the odd person out? The one handed keyboard gets put in a desk drawer. They continue on for the rest of their lives being an inadequate typist. What a pity. If those same weeks in training had been spent teaching them to speed touch type on the normal standard keyboard (called QWERTY), they could have excelled in the workplace. They would now be typing with the same speed, often with more, than their two handed co-workers. Note our page for ONE HANDED OFFICE WORKERS
You can introduce your student to use the one hand typing system FREE by via this web site, or through free downloads several lessons in the manual.
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We have two e-mail discussion groups, I hope you will join one. Discussion on both is open.
One is for those professionals who deal with helping their clients with limb differences use a computer.
The second discussion group is a place for parents of kids with limb differences. Discussion is open. We just want to share ideas for solutions to challenges we face.
First, I am not a doctor. Always check with a professional before you go ahead with any idea. How far past the injury is this patient? If, immediately or even only a year after injury, then no. People may regain reasonable hand/arm function in rehab. As in stroke, sometimes full use is regained after therapy.
Only have the person learn the one hand method if you are sure there will never be enough coordination with the affected hand to type in the standard two handed method. Someday, she will able able to type with two hands again? Then, I feel the time is then better spent in working towards regaining full use. However, if the damage is too great, and she/he will definitely never again have good use of that hand and arm, then the one hand technique is a terrific option. If they are years post-injury, if the patient still has only limited function then, they've almost certainly got limited function for life, and a one-handed typing method is a great lifeline for them.
Use The Affected Hand As Part of Therapy
With stroke, giving the affected hand, and arm small tasks is often part of therapy. Why not use the computer as a tool to help with that therapy? There are so many devices that could be used as a mouse: roller ball, joy stick, and others. Perhaps one of these can be used by the affected hand? If she has just a bit of mobility, perhaps using one of these would help retrain coordination?
Could you, or someone, go to a computer store with her, and test drive what types of mice are available? I hate to see the hand the and arm that need the work the most be ignored. Would giving them a small, easy job, help? Please check with her physical therapist and/or doctor.
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One Hand Typing and Keyboarding & Resources on CD
($49, plus $7 s/h): On the CD are ...
1) Many versions of One Hand Typing and Keyboarding Manuals: some to practice on screen, and one to print
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3) Scores of resources from all of the Internet
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