Saturday, 5 March 2011

Tutorial One: Information Technology and Ethical Issues

The focus of this posting will be around the definition of Information Technology (IT) and Ethical Issues involved with IT. I will also touch on it's relevance to therapy treatments in the future.
What is IT?
IT Definition: We use the term information technology or IT to refer to an entire industry. In actuality, information technology is the use of computers and software to manage information (Schneider, n.d).

My interprtation of IT is that we have the ability to use a computer and software systems to store, retrieve and transmit information, not only nationally but internationally as well. This gives us the ability to play games and save our progress, complete online class work and send it via email to education providers, bank online almost anything we want.
How is this form of technology prevalent in our society?  How common place has it become? 
IT has become a necessity to New Zealanders as a whole. We rely on technology every day, we have cell phones, traffic lights, email, GPS, laptops with portable internet, and when one or all of these things fail or break down we are hard pressed to get through the rest of our day. Companies and net works can crash with a single glitch in their system which can take hours to fix again.
This link shows a blogger with a similar view on technology.
What IT devices or system do you feel comfortable and competent using?

I am comfortable using my cell phone and digital camera from which I can upload photos to computers. I am comfortable using computers to a certain extent. For example I can and do use word processing but have trouble with formatting of pages.
If the computer doesn’t do what I ask it to do i don’t have the knowledge to figure out why therefore i am limited as to what i can do up to that point. 
How is IT being used in Occupational Therapy practice?

Client notes are kept on computer files as well as hard copy, this enables therapists to see up to date information, past notes of their own, as well as other clinicians

What issues exist around OTs adoption of IT systems and tools? and what ways can IT be used in practice?
In the reading “mainstream technology as an occupational therapy tool: technophobe or techno geek” (Verdonck and Ryan, 2008) they talk about how the internet can be used to enhance a person’s self care abilities. i.e shopping online. There are concerns thought with this type of therapeutic tool because there is a risk of addiction, for example using computer games to promote hand eye co-ordination (games can become addictive).
Here is a link to an article where computer games are used to help children who stutter "intergrating computer games in speach therapy for children who stutter"

Why should we have a great understanding of the use of IT in our practice and daily lives? 
In the future of occupational therapy, therapists need to gain a better understanding of technology because it is a forever changing and advancing tool. More and more patients will be familiar with the internet, cell phones, play stations and these will become part of meaningful activity in their lives. If as therapists we do not advance with technology, become familiar with it and have an understanding of it, then we will be unable to treat our clients with the tools that are important and meaningful to them. 
  • Computer games can be useful tools for treatment of physical, cognitive and behavioural occupational performance components (Verdonck and Ryan, 2008).

What ethical implications arise from the capturing,  sharing and transferring of information via IT devices?

There is the issue of informed consent with websites such as facebook or bebo where people can post photos and comments about others without their permission. this also raises the issue of privacy because in some cases people wont know there has been images and comments posted about them therefore they are unable to take any action against it from happening.

What is Intellectual Property? 
"Intellectual property (IP) is an umbrella term used for human innovations and creativity that are capable of being protected under national law and international treaties. IP includes a diverse range of commercial assets from patents for new inventions through to copyright protected artworks" (Intellectual Property office, 2010).
My understanding of IP is that you can protect the technologies and programmes you have come up with yourself so that others cannot use them legally without your permission, and if they do use it they must show recognition of where they got it. In relation to Occupational Therapy this will protect assessments that people have made or proven intervention technologies they have used. Therefore people who use these assessments or technologies must acknowledge where they have come from and don’t pass it of as something they have come up with on their own. 

What is Social Justice? 

"In essence, social justice is concerned with equal justice, not just in the courts, but in all aspects of society. This concept demands that people have equal rights and opportunities; everyone, from the poorest person on the margins of society to the wealthiest deserves an even playing field" (Wisegeek, 2011).

My understanding of social justice in relation to IT in OT practice is that every client receiving OT intervention should have the opportunity to use intervention tools that are relevant and present within their ADL’s (activity of daily living).
What is Informed Consent?

"Informed consent is a legal procedure to ensure that a patient or client knows all of the risks and costs involved in a treatment. The elements of informed consents include informing the client of the nature of the treatment, possible alternative treatments, and the potential risks and benefits of the treatment. In order for informed consent to be considered valid, the client must be competent and the consent should be given voluntarily" (, 2011).

My understanding of informed consent in relation to IT in an OT practice is that the therapist has an obligation to outline and provide extra information if needed about the treatment plan they have for their client. For example if a therapist was to use a Brian training program that came in the form of a game, the therapist would have to explain the pros and cons of this tool. For instance the risk of addiction to the computer game.

Reference list

Schneider, L. (n.d.). Information Technology - Definition and History. In Job search tech. Retrieved February 18, 2011, from

Verdonck, M. C., Ryan, S. (2008) Mainstream Technology as an occupational therapy tool: Technophobe or Technogeek?. British journal of occupational therapy, 71(6), 253-256.

Intellectual Property office. (2010). What is intellectual property? Retrieved February 28, 2011, from
Wisegeek. (2011). What is social justice. Retrieved February 28, 2011, from (2011). What is informed consent. Retrieved February 28, 2011, from

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