Assistive Technology - Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center - Richmond, VA
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Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center - Richmond, VA

 

Assistive Technology

Mission

  • To enhance the ability of Veterans and Active Duty Members with disabilities to fulfill life goals through the coordination and provision of appropriate interdisciplinary assistive technology services.
  • To serve as an expert resource to support the application of assistive technology within the VA health care system.





About the Program

Assistive Technology logo

The Assistive Technology Program of the Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Service is responsible for evaluation, development and implementation of appropriate assistive technology services, strategies, devices and/or practices to improve the functional challenges faced by service members and veterans in their daily life roles in various environments:
  • Administers and interprets assistive technology evaluation in the following areas of assistive technology:

    • Powered Mobility & Seating (excludes scooters)
      • Devices designed to improve and optimize mobility when Veterans are no longer able to achieve by conventional rehabilitation or medical interventions.
    • Adaptive Driving Vehicles (see Kinesiotherapy for details)
    • Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Devices
      • Devices and technologies used by Veterans with impairments in gestural, spoken and/or written modes of communication.
    • Adaptive Computer Access
      • Devices and/or software designed to allow Veterans who have lost the use of a body part or function to access a computer.                                                         
    • Electronic Cognitive Devices
      • Devices and/or software designed to improve the everyday function of Veterans with cognitive impairments.
    • Electronic Aids to Daily Living
      • Devices designed to help with the daily living needs of Veterans who have lost the use of a body part or function.
    • Adaptive Sports
      • Recreational sports and sports equipment that helps Veterans compensate for their physical disability.
  • Adapts and modifies treatment plans, activities and procedures to meet the needs of the patients. 
  • Elicits patient participation in implementing assistive technology objectives in restoring or maintaining patient performance.
  • Determines need for appropriate assistive/adaptive devices/equipment and training. 
  • Educates patient and family/caregiver in the proper application/installation/use for a specific device(s).

The Assistive Technology Program has staff that provides services in the primary areas of polytrauma, spinal cord injury, mental health, acute care, outpatient, and community living centers.

The Assistive Technology Program provides these services in the Polytrauma Transitional Rehabilitation Center AT lab; Main Hospital Inpatient AT lab, Mental Health AT Lab and the KT Driving Rehabilitation. In addition, the AT program utilizes the patient open wireless access in these locations as well as on Spinal Cord Service, PM&R Service and Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center for some AT evaluation and training.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), rehabilitation engineering is “the use of engineering principles to 1) develop technological solutions and devices to assist individuals with disabilities and 2) aid the recovery of physical and cognitive function lost because of disease or injury.” The AT program at the McGuire VA Medical Center has three rehabilitation engineers who collaborate with clinicians and patients to evaluate, design, fabricate, and implement the best possible assistive technology solution to meet patient goals. Our rehabilitation engineers are experts on existing assistive technology products. Additionally, they have strong skills in custom fabrication using mechanical design software, 3D printers, 3D scanners, custom electronics, and more. Thanks to their engineering knowledge, our AT program can provide enhanced care to patients and innovate new solutions.

The Assistive Technology program offers TeleRehabilitation Services in collaboration with other VA Medical Centers across VHA as well as the Richmond CBOCs (Charlottesville, Fredericksburgand Emporia.  In addition, we offer telerehabilitation services to the home allowing Veterans  to access their VA health care providers and receive assistive technology services  through secure, encrypted video teleconferencing from the comfort and privacy of their own home.

Links to additional useful information and resources: www.telehealth.va.gov 

Contact your medical provider to request a consult, if you have any assistive technology needs.  For more information about the Assistive Technology (AT) Program at McGuire VA Medical Center please contact: Melissa Oliver, OTR/L, AT Program Coordinator at 804-675-5000 x2134 or melissa.oliver@va.gov.

For information about other AT Centers across the country within the VA Health Care System, please see the links below:

Assistive Technology Staff


Melissa Oliver

Melissa Oliver
Melissa Oliver is an Occupational Therapist and the Assistive Technology Program Coordinator at McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond, Virginia. She works assisting active duty service members and veterans with various diagnosis transition back into their life roles through the use of assistive technology.  She specializes in areas of electronic cognitive devices, adaptive computer access, learning technologies and electronic aides to daily living. Ms. Oliver helped establish the VA’s Innovator’s Network at McGuire VA Medical Center where she empowered employees to develop innovative solutions to positively impact Veterans and their health care. Ms. Oliver received a baccalaureate degree in Psychology and Business Administration from Mary Washington College. She received a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy from Shenandoah University. She has been an occupational therapist for 18 years, of which the past 11 years have been at McGuire VA Medical Center working in the spinal cord service, polytrauma transitional rehabilitation and now in Assistive Technology. Ms. Oliver has served in a variety of elected positions in Pi Theta Epsilon (PTE), the National Occupational Therapy Honor Society, including Treasurer and President. She served on the American Occupational Therapy Foundation Board of Directors and is currently a board member of the Virginia Assistive Technology Advisory Council for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Ms. Oliver also serves as the Managing Editor of NeuroRehabilitation, an Interdisciplinary Journal for the past several years.


Brian Burkhardt

Brian Burkhardt
Brian Burkhardt has been the rehabilitation engineer for the Assistive Technology Program at the Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center for the past 7 years. Over the last 17 years as an engineer he has designed devices ranging from ambulatory EKG monitors, missile telemetry systems, and wheelchair proximity alert systems. Brian specializes in Electronic Aids to Daily Living (EADLS), adaptive computer access, speech generating devices,  and power wheelchairs. His role as an engineer in the rehabilitation team involves the integration of these technologies and the development of new assistive technology empowering Veterans with diagnoses including SCI, TBI, ALS, and MS.


Seth Hills

Seth Hills
Seth Hills earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Utah State University a ME in Bioengineering at the University of Utah, and a certificate in Prosthetics from Northwestern University. Volunteer work includes Meals On Wheels, Shriners Hospital in Salt Lake City, and Boy Scouts of America. Mr. Hills worked clinically as a prosthetics and orthotics practitioner from 2009-2016 and maintains his certification.  Since becoming a Clinical Rehabilitation Engineer in early 2016, Mr. Hills has helped to develop several adaptive sports tools, custom mounting solutions and ADL aids, a novel wheelchair interface, and promoted Rehabilitation Engineering at the Richmond VAMC.


John Miller

John Miller
John Miller has a M.S. and B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Virginia and North Carolina State University, respectively. Previously he did research in gait asymmetry, soft exoskeletons, muscle modeling, wheelchair-related injuries, and cerebral palsy rehabilitation programs. John has been a rehabilitation technician with the Assistive Technology Program since July 2016. He has presented on his work to the Brain Injury Conference in Williamsburg, VA, the Rehabilitation Engineering Society of North America (RESNA), and to organizations within the VA such as the Innovation Network, where his innovation was selected for the local Demo Day People's Choice Award.

Rehab Engineering Education Sheet

Assistive Technology Newsletters
Fall 2020
Spring 2020
Fall 2019
Spring 2019
Winter 2019
Fall 2018
Summer 2018
Winter 2018