Associations Between Insurance Provider and Assistive Technology Use for Computer and Electronic Devices 1 Year After Tetraplegia: Findings From the Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems National Database



      To investigate the association between insurance provider and reported assistive technology (AT) use to access computers and electronic devices 1 year after sustaining tetraplegia.


      Multicenter cross-sectional study.


      Participants enrolled in the Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems (SCIMS) National Database.


      Not applicable.


      Men and women with tetraplegia (N=498) enrolled in the SCIMS National Database were included in the analysis.

      Main Outcome Measures

      The primary study outcome was the use of AT when operating a computer or other mobile electronic device. The primary predictor was the subject’s principal health insurance provider, which was grouped into the 3 categories: government (Medicare, Medicaid, and other government), private (private insurance, private funds, and other), and workers’ compensation.


      Overall, 34.7% of participants reported using AT to access computers and electronic devices. Results of logistic regression analysis revealed sex, injury level, injury completeness, self-perceived health status, and 12-month history of pressure ulcer were all significantly associated with AT use. After adjusting for these factors, participants with workers’ compensation were more likely to report AT use than individuals with either government or private insurance.


      Despite significant technological advances, AT is not readily available to the people who might benefit most from its use. Findings from the present study are the first to shed light on AT funding sources and reveal that individuals with workers’ compensation are more likely use AT than individuals with either government or private insurance. Additional work focused on AT use and functional outcomes is needed to assess the effect of barriers to use. Collectively, this work may inform insurers of the importance of having AT available for this unique population to potentially improve quality of life and participation.


      List of abbreviations:

      AIS (American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale), AT (assistive technology), OR (odds ratio), SCI (spinal cord injury), SCIMS (Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems)
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