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The service providing innovative specialised care to clients

Computerised manufacturing, rehabilitation robotics and 3D printing are just a few of the tools being used by Northern Sydney Local Health District’s Assistive Technology and Seating Service (AT&S) to optimise and configure technology in support of its clients.  

The service, headed by Senior Rehabilitation Engineer Iain Brown, is based at Macquarie Hospital and supports clients with spinal cord injuries and other conditions resulting in clients needing a wheelchair for primary mobility. The team works in inpatient, outpatient, community and rural settings across NSW. 
“AT&S is an interdisciplinary team, which is critical to how the service operates and delivers services to our clients,” Iain said. 

“We are a clinical service, but the integrated technical expertise enables us to be more effective in the interventions we can offer.” 

The team includes rehabilitation engineers, specialist seating therapists and three seating technicians. The team is ably supported by two admin officers.

The service uses 3D printers to manufacture various technologies, including mounts for drinking systems and communications devices, custom components to enable greater independence, such as enema inserters and custom wheelchair controllers for clients with a spinal cord injury.

I have always felt valued and welcome, even when my issues are sometimes challenging and require considerable time to resolve
AT&S client, John Moxon

“The ability to adjust equipment, to modify, and even to fabricate custom components as required to meet clients’ individual needs allows us to be incredibly specific in our client care,” Iain said. “Moreover, our clients are integral contributors in the clinical process, being able to provide direct experience about their individual needs and circumstances, and helping to refine solutions accordingly.” 

For John Moxon, the service has given him the means to keep working full-time until he was almost 70 years old, and then to remain independent for many years after that.

He first heard about the service 27 years ago when he was having trouble finding a suitable wheelchair cushion. 

“Over the years, the team has provided advice and support around my wheelchair seating requirements as they have changed with the purchase of different wheelchairs and the changes to my body as I have aged,” John said. 

The service has also provided John occupational therapy advice regarding commode and shower wheelchair purchases, subsequent modifications to improve the functionality of his wheelchairs, and appropriate cushions for those wheelchairs.

“All of the staff whom I have met over the years have been highly professional, efficient, and outcomes-focussed.

“I have no doubt that the staff at the service have saved me, on numerous occasions, from developing skin breakdown issues that would have led to prolonged hospital stays.

“I would recommend the service to all who are eligible to access its services – correct seating and posture can save a person from many months in hospital.”

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