Therapy Devices for Disabled
– Some of the next items that could appear on the market to improve the quality
of life for people with disabilities have been born at Penn State DuBois. This semester, students in both the
Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) program and the General Engineering
program worked together to design and build devices that people with physical
limitations can use in their daily lives to complete common tasks.
students identified needs that occupational therapy clients may have in their
day to day lives, and determined ways devices might help them to complete
certain tasks. The OTA students conveyed
those needs to students in the engineering program, who then set to work
designing and building the devices. During a recent exhibition of their projects
on campus, the creations were on display and demonstrated. There were items to help people complete
tasks including everything from opening bottles and setting alarm clocks, to
repositioning their television.
hands-on, it's applying their knowledge to the physical, then seeing the
projects working," said Professor of Engineering Daudi Waryoba.
"Multidisciplinary projects teach the students right from the beginning
that when you graduate and start a career, you will work in different areas and
different industries. It teaches them to
interact with people from different back grounds and learn how to meet their
Fieldwork Coordinator for the OTA program Amy Fatula said for her students, the
project was an opportunity to harness their creativity. She said, "Occupational therapists and
occupational therapy assistants in the field do have to come up with concepts
and be creative. We often come up with
items to use right off the shelf, but sometimes you have to custom design
something for a client. That's what they
student Jesse Keith of Emeigh, PA worked on a device that would allow a student
with low arm strength to lift their arm in class. It is designed to help them lift objects, or
even raise their hand to get the teachers attention. The patient's arm sits in a rest that is
connected to a small motor, and controlled by a joy stick. When the person wishes to raise their arm,
they just operate the stick to go up, or return it to the down position.
different concepts, we came up with this one. We had five concepts originally," Keith said, noting the lessons he
learned on the design process.
student Michelle Adams of Mayport, PA added, "It's a good learning process
working with the engineering students. It will help us get a better concept of the equipment we can use or even
make to suit our needs."
said the next step in the project for some students is to seek out patents for
Engineering OTA 009 Engineering
student Edward Dong demonstrates a device designed to help students raise their
hand in class, while design partner Jesse Keith looks on.