Michael Braun talking to a patient

Employees Who Make a Difference: Michael Braun, Assistive Technology Specialist

Beyond Magazine

Jan 29, 2021

This article was originally published in our Fall 2020 Issue of Brooks Rehabilitation Beyond Magazine. Subscribe online.

Ten years ago, Michael Braun, MSOT, OTR/L, BCPR, was literally chilling in Wisconsin when thoughts of Florida crossed his mind. It wasn’t a path to warmer weather, beaches or spring break. It was a path to further his career helping people recuperate from illness or injury.

At the time, Braun was completing a master’s degree in occupational therapy (OT). He learned about Brooks Rehabilitation’s plan to start one of the few OT neuro residency/ fellowship programs in Northeast Florida, through Brooks’ Institute of Higher Learning (IHL). Braun knew immediately this type of program was for him.

Upon graduation, Braun moved to Jacksonville and accepted a position at Brooks as an OT, working with patients in the Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital’s Spinal Cord Injury Program. He also became one of the first individuals to complete IHL’s OT neuro fellowship program. He also found his own special way of helping his patients – by using technology.

“I really enjoy helping patients find new ways to use their phone or the internet to communicate with family. Or it could be something we take for granted like controlling the TV or light switches. Or learning different ways to use a computer again to help them return to work,” said Braun.

Braun’s interest in technology generated new ways for his patients to overcome obstacles, while his fellowship training gave him new skills in clinical practice, self-governance and community outreach.

The technology and fellowship training came together for Braun in two new career roles: Assistive Technology Specialist for Brooks and coordinator for IHL’s Occupational Neurologic Fellowship program. In these roles, Braun studies technological advances, treats patients and helps train other clinicians on assistive technology. He also mentors and instructs OTs specializing in neuro rehabilitation.

To stay current in new technology, Braun communicates with other OT professionals who collaborate on best practices, breakthroughs and changes in the field. He also works with vendors in the development of new technology.

In a new project – and a first for Brooks – Braun is developing an assistive technology area for patients that will showcase all that’s available to Brooks patients. The setting will be similar to a model smart home, so patients and their families can see and test tools available to assist in their independence at home.

“I love learning about advances we have within our reach to help our patients. The culture at Brooks is a great environment to nurture and grow our passion and interests,” said Braun. “Assistive technology is an area to grow and help our patients develop, and Brooks is in support of that. Brooks seeks out ways to best serve and support our patients.”

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