Posted by vanessa on December 1, 2017
By Lauren Ruf, CUDPT 2018
In her Advanced Pediatrics Seminar, Dr. Lisa Yoon selected six students to work on two projects at the Adaptive Design Association (ADA). This organization’s mission is to “ensure that people with disabilities receive the custom adaptations they need to live healthy lives and fulfill their developmental, academic, and vocational potential.”
Dr. Yoon divided the students into two teams of three. These groups worked with two different families, Dr. Yoon, and the team at ADA over a period of 16 hours to conceive, develop, execute and deliver custom-designed equipment to the families. Team one members were: Lauren Ruf, Alison Scott and Hung Trinh. Team two members were: Sungjin Kim, April Shiau and Aashika Suseendran. All students are from the class of 2018. Lauren Ruf recounts her experience.
This past summer during my clinical affiliation at Roosevelt Children's Center (RCC) in New York City, I had the chance to see firsthand how many children can benefit from the wide range of customized devices as well as adaptations to existing devices that are created at Adaptive Design Association (ADA). The school had rocking chairs, floor sitters, floor scooters, perch chairs, and many other pieces of equipment to help make it more accessible for each child, all created at the ADA. My classmates Alison, Hung and I were very eager to get to work when given the opportunity to build a piece of equipment for a child with special needs, as an extra project for our advanced seminar in pediatrics.
Our team met with a four-year-old boy, Alejandro, who attends RCC and has been working with Dr. Yoon receiving physical therapy since his initiation of early intervention services. We had a discussion with his mother, Carolina, about which piece of equipment would help him get the most out of his after school activities by balancing exercise with comfort. Together we decided on a floor sitter that encouraged proper alignment of his hips with a removable tray so he could play or rest his arms. We took his measurements to ensure proper fit, as well as to allow room for growth. Three more classmates, Aashika, April and Sungjin, worked with a different family to build a customized stair for a young girl to increase her ability to access the bathroom and kitchen sink safely. Customized touches on their piece include high color contrast to address visual impairments.
The students and faculty went to ADA once a week for a few hours until the projects were completed. The entire ADA staff was extremely helpful in guiding us throughout the process as we honed our carpentry skills. The majority of the equipment at ADA is made from tri-wall cardboard, and reinforced with wooden dowels, cardboard supports, thin pieces of plywood, or other materials as they suited the project. It is amazing how strong and durable cardboard can be with the proper edging, painting and sealant. Cardboard is also significantly lighter than many other options, making it easier for the caregivers to move around within the home or school.
Once we were about halfway done with the project, we had Alejandro stop by ADA for a fitting, to see if the floor sitter was on the right track. We made some adjustments to the design based on his positioning, as well as input from his mother.
By far the most rewarding part of the entire experience was delivering the finished project to Alejandro and his family. Watching his face light up with excitement when he was able to use his arms on his tray for support and continue playing made us each want to continue building at ADA.
|L-R: Team One: Alison Scott, Hung Trinh, and Lauren Ruf, with Alejandro|
L-R: Team Two: , Aashika Suseendran, Sungjin Kim, and April Shiau showing off their custom stair which will enable its user to access the sink in the bathroom and kitchen.