UTHSC Occupational Therapy Students Host Innovation Showcase

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First-year occupational therapy students display their finished products during the OT Innovation Showcase. They used basic household materials to create products that can be used as therapeutic materials or adaptive equipment for individuals with disabilities. (Photo by Jackie Denton/UTHSC)

First-year occupational therapy students at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center displayed their own creative takes on therapeutic materials and adaptive equipment during the OT Innovation Showcase today.

Students used basic household materials to create products that can be used as therapeutic materials or adaptive equipment for individuals with disabilities. Held in the Madison Plaza, the showcase was a part of the course requirements for OT 537 Neurological Aspects of Occupational Performance, taught by Stephanie Lancaster, EdD, OTR/L, ATP, CAPS, who specializes in assistive technology within the field of occupational therapy.

Given the name of a household item like a sponge or an egg carton, each OT student was provided with a description of a client with a neurological condition impacting occupational performance and instructed to use the item and other materials to design and create a product to be used with the client as part of an OT intervention. In addition to the showcase, students blogged about their ideas and the process they went through to come up with their products.

OT practitioners help clients to regain as much independence as possible in their occupations or whatever occupies their time in a meaningful way, such as gardening, sewing, or cooking. Examples of the OT students’ innovations included a carry-along sewing kit and a mini-herb garden to make gardening on a small scale accessible.

Dr. Lancaster, who is an assistant professor and program director in the UTHSC Department of Occupational Therapy, got the idea from her 22 years of clinical experience in the field. “I frequently needed to create or adapt a product in order to meet the needs of a client,” she said. ” Keeping an eye on challenges with third-party reimbursement and the expense of adaptive equipment on the market, OT practitioners use innovation in their daily work. For that reason, the OT students at UTHSC learn how to think outside the box and to design and fabricate materials that can be used as therapeutic materials in working with clients and also by clients as adaptive equipment.”