Cristina Perdomo Delgado is 32 years old and is from the town of Taganana, located in the rural area of Anaga, in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. She is an occupational therapist specializing in neurorehabilitation and assistive technologies.
Cristina treated Alexander Canino Hernández, the young man who, on July 2, 2018, suffered a tragic accident when he fell from the coast of La Matanza de Acentejo that caused a serious head injury and sunk his skull in the right frontal area with important consequences. in reasoning, speech and mobility.
She worked with him after he came out of his coma and before he went to Barcelona to start his first rehabilitation treatment and is still attentive to his progress and achievements and taking care of him since he is the bridge with other therapies that are not applied in Spain , such as regenerative cell therapy that is carried out in the United States.
The function of an occupational therapist is to work the activities of daily life with those people who have one or several limitations due to different pathologies, such as having suffered a head injury or suffering from degenerative diseases, through different techniques of activities of care, games, or functional independence, increasing development to prevent disability of the person.
In addition, these professionals include adaptations of the tasks of the environment, value the accessibility of the homes so that people with physical, cognitive or sensory disabilities can have greater independence at home, and that in turn allows caregivers to take care of them more easily with the use of assistive products.
Although there are many who tend to confuse an occupational therapist with a physical therapist, the former is in charge of the evaluation and functional assessment of the person, always taking into account their abilities and limitations. That is, they help prepare them for daily life and depending on their need they focus on basic activities, such as clothing, food or bathing, or on those of an instrumental nature, such as going shopping, take care of the house or the use of money. The latter, on the other hand, focus on recovering physical function, no less important for that.
The work that Cristina Perdomo is currently developing with Alex focuses on this last objective, on teaching her to use money with everyday examples, such as paying when she goes to the supermarket to buy a loaf of bread.
To facilitate these types of tasks, and as a result of her doctoral project with the Paulista State University, in São Paulo, Brazil, Cristina created the mobile application ‘Me Cuido’, a tool that both caregivers and people who require help can have and do not suppose the first ones to be permanently at home all day but that they can request it when they need it through the mobile phone.
As for the seconds, the person who uses ‘Me Cuido’ recognizes that they have a limitation and that they can live alone even if they need help from their relatives or those closest to them, who live far away or simply cannot be aware all the time of her physically.
It is very easy to use and you only need a mobile phone. The application is downloaded, which will be free, and connects to the phone number of the family member or person in charge. “It is only necessary to press the mobile phone so that they know, for example, where you are at a certain moment,” explains Cristina. Thus, someone with dementia who leaves their home to buy and does not remember how to return, by having this application on their mobile, their relatives can know where they are and they would not have to be with a person watching them 24 hours a day.
A help with homework and obligations
Another of the ‘helps’ it provides is with tasks and obligations. Thus, if the dependent forgets to take the medication, the application will remind them with a message to do so, but not only to them, but also to the caregiver, and that allows them to have some control on both sides.
In this sense, the application has been novel because it has a geolocation function that enables the caregiver to know at all times where the person is, even if the battery runs out or loses the phone.
Furthermore, its design is innovative so that it can be easily used by people with fine motor skills and vision, in which it participates directly with its thesis supervisor, Luis Carlos Paschoarelli, and a programmer.
Me Cuido ‘was registered on April 30 of last year at the Brazilian Property Institute and is based on a remote care or remote care, as they say in Portuguese. It has already been activated in the United States and in Spain the usability test is being carried out with people over 50 years of age. The idea is that it can go out as far as it goes and can also spread throughout Latin America and Portugal.
Despite her youth, Cristina is hired as a teacher at different universities, both in Spain and abroad. His subjects are related to assistive technologies and occupational therapy in neurorehabilitation but he also works as an occupational therapist in the Association of Caregivers, Relatives and Friends of People with Dependence, Alzheimer’s and other Dementias (Acufade), an association without Profit spirit that arises from a process of community intervention and socio-sanitary coordination that began in 2001 in La Matanza de Acentejo, and for which he has nothing but words of praise.
This entity, in addition to helping and providing support, also informs and this task is very important because very few people know about some of their rights, such as having access to a subsidized wheelchair, or the help that exists from the different municipalities to adapt the bathroom of your home, or materials that can be requested from Social Security for free, such as wheelchairs or anti-bedsore cushions.
Alex’s case was one of the most challenging in his professional career, because the young man came out of a coma and no one knew how he was going to progress since he did it differently every day.
The Alex thing has been amazing
But Cristina always “always thought positively”, because she was a young person, with characteristics that would allow her to get ahead, and she was not wrong. “It was amazing, because from the first evaluations that were made on a cognitive level, it was seen that he was progressing and the physical part, once he is rehabilitated and taken from the first moment, as he was lucky, he is recovering although in some cases it is not 100% ”.
Alex did not walk and now he does it alone “and also, without any support product,” says the professional. In addition, he already speaks individual words, knows his friends, has regained mobility and understands simple commands.
The part related to speech is one of the most complicated areas to work on and more so in Alex’s case due to the blow he suffered, “but it is also true that when he wants something, he asks for it,” says the therapist.
The young man has broken all barriers and since then, with the help of his parents, he has not stopped fighting for a single day.
Cristina Perdomo has several international job offers in research groups at various universities, including Canada and Chile. He has not yet decided on his future. At the moment, his most immediate objective is that the application he has created when he was only 32 years old could be useful and free because he considers it to be a great help. The rest is left to time. In hers is working and being positive and that is the most important thing.
“I have never known a job similar to Acufade’s”
The therapist emphasizes the great work that Acufade does in Tenerife. “I have never known a similar job,” he stresses. According to Cristina, she has innovative projects and also, “they take great care of the caregiver” and that in no area they do. Right now he is developing a new project in the Canary Islands that consists of assessing accessibility in the homes of dependent people to improve their independence and improve the burden of care on caregivers. Professionals go house to house throughout the Island, assessing the barriers they have, both physical and social, and prepare a report with recommendations for relatives. Nitibus pro tendeleste.