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Casa Colina Hospital Receives Ahmanson Foundation Funding to Purchase Assistive Technology for Patients With Spinal Cord Injury

Casa Colina Hospital Receives Ahmanson Foundation Funding to Purchase Assistive Technology for Patients With Spinal Cord Injury

The Ahmanson Foundation has awarded Casa Colina Hospital and Centers for Healthcare a grant in the amount of $66,400 toward the purchase of three autonoME hospital units to help patients newly diagnosed with spinal cord injury (SCI) gain function, independence, and confidence.

The autonoME is a specialized, portable piece of assistive technology equipment that combines an environmental control unit (ECU)—which allows paralyzed SCI patients to better control their physical surroundings—with an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device, a common assistive technology for those with vocal or communication impairments. With its unique features and built-in mobility, the autonoME will improve the ability of SCI inpatients in Casa Colina Hospital to participate in their recoveries, regain basic functions, and increase independence as they start their rehabilitation.

Patients with SCI face unique challenges that can slow the rehabilitation process, including paralysis, communication deficits, limited access to technologies, and loss of control that can result in mental health issues. The autonoME hospital unit empowers SCI patients to better control their environment with options like vocal command, capacitive touch screen, “sip and puff” activation, head tracking, and Eye Gaze, a feature that allows the autonoME’s commands to be controlled by the user’s eyes.

“In the inpatient setting, the immediate impact of spinal cord injury extends beyond mobility loss, particularly for those with full-body paralysis,” says Stephanie Kaplan, PT, DPT, ATP, Executive Director of Transitional Living and Rehabilitation Services at Casa Colina Hospital and Centers for Healthcare. “This technology will reduce patients' reliance on nursing staff for routine activities—channel changes, bed adjustments, and light control, for example—and it will increase their ability to participate in things like cell phone use, gaming, and more. We think these devices will provide a substantial quality-of-life improvement for Casa Colina Hospital patients with SCI and other neurologic conditions.”

In addition to having a direct impact on patients, the devices will also help the Casa Colina Research Institute (CCRI) advance SCI research. CCRI researchers will collect and analyze outcomes data on patient function and satisfaction after using autonoME, with the goal of demonstrating a general argument for widespread, early adoption of similar technology in the SCI inpatient setting.

For more than 60 years, Casa Colina has been at the forefront of providing exceptional care for individuals recovering from SCI, offering one of the most comprehensive SCI treatment programs nationwide. Overseen by a physician certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation and supported by the Casa Colina Research Institute, Casa Colina clinicians combine state-of-the-art methods with proven clinical pathways to help those recovering from SCI face the challenges of their injury, increase function, and improve their quality of life.

About Casa Colina Hospital and Centers for Healthcare
Casa Colina Hospital and Centers for Healthcare is a nonprofit provider of specialized medical, surgical, and rehabilitative care for people with disabling conditions resulting from accidents, disease, or illness. Its continuum of care includes medical-surgical and intensive care, acute rehabilitation, residential rehabilitation, and long-term residential care. Outpatient services include orthopedic and neurologic rehabilitation, physician clinics, children’s services, diagnostic imaging, laboratory, audiology, and day treatment. Home to a research institute, adaptive wheelchair sports and recreation program, and several residency programs, Casa Colina has proudly served the Southern California community and beyond for more than 85 years. Visit to learn more.

Contact Casa Colina Hospital:

Stephanie Bradhurst
Director of Communications
909/596-7733, ext. 2227