For any of you that know me, you will know I am not a massive fan of sport; however, as sport has recently captured the heart of the nation, so too has it captured mine… well, for the duration of this blog at least… and only so far as assistive technology is concerned…
AT, or not AT, that is the question…
Earlier in the year I was faced with probably one of my biggest challenges since joining the access: technology team: What technology do you suggest for someone with a brain injury, who doesn’t want to engage with technology?
At access: technology, we’re not about gimmicks or unnecessarily forcing an iPad into a client’s hand. If the technology doesn’t help them, we don’t use it (to quote a well known celebrity meerkat, “simples”.) So, in this instance, I found myself contemplating what I could do to get them to embrace the technology that would help them. LIGHTBULB MOMENT! I decided to focus on their interests, rather than the technology.
As easy as riding a bike
When talking to my client I found that one interest stood out above all others: cycling. I must confess that whilst I don’t partake in the sport personally, it is something that features quite heavily in my life, in the form of my other half. Believe me, living with a cycling fanatic brings a whole new meaning to planning your weekend around the weather! However, on this occasion living with an avid cyclist worked in my favour. It meant I knew what cycling technology was available, and more specifically what technology might consequently be able to support someone with memory loss as a result of a brain injury. So I thought cycling could be an excellent motivational tool to engage my client in technology.
Although I’d never personally used them, I was fairly familiar with different makes and models of bike computers as I have had to set a few of them up over the years. Most recently, I had become familiar with the Wahoo Elemnt models. I was aware that a Wahoo Elemnt Roam is more than just a GPS bike computer.
The Roam will allow you to plan a route and work as a satnav, telling you when to turn as well as getting you back on track if you veer from your route and get lost. However, its best feature is one that will support not just the cyclist, but anyone left at home whilst they are out cycling, wondering where they are and why they are not back at the agreed time. (It is usually me left sitting at home wondering where my other half is when he’s quite happily had that extra café stop!)
Once you have planned and uploaded your route to the device and are ready to set off, you just press start on the Roam (which will start your GPS going.) It will automatically send your selected contacts an email sharing with them the route you are taking but also giving them a live map of where you are on your route. It is fantastic if you are not back at the scheduled time because of that unexpected mechanical or puncture.
If you have your phone with you, it will show notifications directly on the Roam, so if a concerned loved-one has noticed you have not moved for 10 minutes whilst you are having the odd cheeky café stop, they can give you a call to check you are ok. The perfect device for someone who is passionate about cycling but also has memory problems so wouldn’t always consider to let anyone know that they are going to be late, or that they have deviated from the route they had told you they would be taking prior to setting off.
Not just for cycling
Other excellent features of the Roam include being able to switch to other sports such as running or walking, and linking it to other apps such as Strava, so you do not miss out on those all-important Kudos! It also works well with Komoot or Ride with GPS, enabling you to plan and upload your routes too.
This was not a piece of technology I ever imagined implementing when working with a client, nor did I ever expect cycling to feature so heavily in an assessment. I have been amazed at the confidence it has given both him and his family when going out cycling. He has been truly inspirational. He now has truly embraced technology and now uses his Roam to compete with family members. Whilst they have the reassurance of always knowing where he is on his route. He is now considering new pieces of technology that can support his memory so watch this space!
The Wahoo Elemnt Roam is a versatile device that can be used as a GPS bike computer but can act as peace of mind if you forget to let your loved ones know where you are or that you will be late.