A burden carried by critically ill, intubated patients, is the inability to communicate with health care providers and family members. Although writing with a clipboard and pen is often attempted, many are not able to due to weakness, sedatives or neurologic deficits associated with illness. Traditional communication tools used in ICUs consist almost solely of a single, laminated picture board with symbols representing common needs or an alphabet to point and spell. Even this simple graphical presentation board is often too visually or cognitively challenging to navigate for most patients. Nearly 1400 intubated patients are seen at UW Health every year, most spending on average 3 days unable to speak due to presence of an endotracheal tube.
A Friends of UW Health Grant made 5 ipads, apps, and stands available for the ICU patients inside the University Hospital. Using iPad hardware and assistive communication technologies patients are now able to communicate audibly to all caregivers and family members. This has given higher quality of care to patients, along with comfort to their family members who are once again able to communicate with their loved ones.
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