Cardboard Kathie Nabial, Matt Jewell, Ryan Renteria

This team of students fabricated two sets of toilet steps for twins.

Physical therapy and occupational therapy students at Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences are among the first students in the nation to integrate a design process using cardboard to construct customized equipment for students with special needs, engendering yet another example of cutting edge interprofessional clinical education.

This spring, students from both programs working together in the Pediatric Course learned basic safety skills and began construction of a simple cardboard box, practicing gluing and nailing techniques. Next, each student conducted a needs assessment on a peer and constructed a cardboard device for that classmate.

Groups consisting of two OT and two PT students were then each assigned one student from a local school district or daycare center to work with. Students interviewed parents and teachers and completed a thorough assessment of the child, including measurements. As a team they developed a sketch of the proposed adaptive design and began production.Cardboard Emily Bailey, Danielle Holt

The project reflected exceptional creativity on the graduate students’ part and provided children and families involved with a functional piece of specialized equipment to support daily life skills that was inexpensive to develop, yet sturdy and aesthetically pleasing.

Assistant Professor of OT Pam Stephenson and Associate Professor of PT Carolyn Moore made the project possible after attending a three-day adaptive design association seminar in December in New York City to learn the basics of using simple cardboard to design and construct customized equipment for students with special needs.

A blog is being developed as a part of MDCHS’ participation in the Adaptive Design Association (ADA) online forum and is expected to launch in the coming weeks. Visit the ADA website for more information.