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Assistive Technology

The Don & Melba Rugg Assistive Technology Lab

Explore Our Assistive Technology Resources

Assistive technology is defined by the Individuals with Disabilities EducationImprovement Act (IDEA) 2004 as: Any item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of those with disabilities.

Our Tech Lab team is up-to-date with the latest software and assistive technology on the market so we can better assist our patients to be safe and independent after a spinal cord or traumatic brain injury. Our team is made up of specially trained occupational and speech therapists who provide hands-on education and training about technological resources for patients, their families, and others in the community. The goal is to equip our patients to communicate with family and friends, increase their independence to control their environment, and achieve their work/school goals.

Extensive Assistive Technology Collection

Craig Hospital patients have the opportunity to use the assistive technology equipment in our extensive collection, so they know what works best for them and how to use it by the time they return home.

Our loan bank includes voice recognition software, computers on wheels, adaptive mouse devices, microphones and keyboards. We have a variety of mounts, Bluetooth earpieces and various ways of controlling the environment (such as turning on/off TV and lights).

The occupational therapists and speech language pathologists continually strive to increase their knowledge by collaborating with local universities and engineers, attending conferences, and learning from our patients. Our team is privileged to partner with students from the Colorado School of Mines and the University of Denver to develop projects that can increase the quality of life for those with brain and spinal cord injuries.

Meet Our Team

  • Jill Baldessari, OTR/L, ATP, Occupational Therapy Supervisor

    Assistive Technology

    Jill Baldessari is the supervisor of the Assistive Technology lab and joined the Craig team in 2001. Her areas of expertise include treatment of spinal cord injuries and collaborating with Craig’s Vocational Rehab Department to help patients return to work and school after discharge.

    jbaldessari@craighospital.org / 303-789-8457

  • Erin Muston-Firsch, MS, OTR/L, Occupational Therapist

    Assistive Technology

    Erin Muston-Firsch came to Craig in 2015 from the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor. She specializes in adaptive video gaming, working with adolescents and treatment of traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries.

    emuston-firsch@craighospital.org / 303-789-8454

  • Laura Tarlova, MS, OTR/L, Occupational Therapist

    Assistive Technology

    Laura Tarlova relocated to Denver in 2015 from an orthopedic and memory care hospital in Minneapolis. Laura specializes in wheelchair seating, assistive technology and spinal cord injury. She also translates for Spanish-speaking patients and their families.

    ltarlova@craighospital.org / 303-789-8962

  • Sarah Foley, MS, CCC/SLP, Speech Pathologist

    Assistive Technology

    Sarah Foley joined Craig Hospital in 2007 from HealthSouth Chesapeake Rehabilitation in Salisbury, MD. Her areas of expertise include augmentative and alternative communication, swallow function, cognition, and treatment of combined spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries.

    sfoley@craighospital.org / 303-789-8532

  • Karen Engstrom, MS, CCC/SLP, Speech Pathologist

    Speech and Language Therapy

    Karen Engstrom has been a Speech-Language Pathologist at Craig since 2007. Karen’s areas of expertise include rehabilitation of swallow function, voice, communication, cognition and use of assistive technology.

    KSimsEngstrom@craighospital.org / 303-789-8622