Empowering Individuals with Limited Joint Mobility: An Embedded Interdisciplinary Program between Occupational Therapy & Industrial Design

Open Access
Conference Proceedings
Authors: Kimberly MolloKyndra AdamsAndrew BergerEric SchneiderTod Corlett

Abstract: This paper highlights the third consecutive year of an ongoing, embedded interdisciplinary collaborative program between Occupational Therapy Doctoral (OTD) and Master of Industrial Design (design) students and faculty co-creating assistive devices that improve participation in tasks and activities for individuals living with Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva (FOP). FOP is a rare and progressive genetic disease, causing an individual's muscles, tendons, and ligaments to turn to bone, resulting in fixation and immobility. During the 9-month collaborative experience, OTD and design students co-conducted 2 sets of interviews with FOP clients identifying activities of daily living that were problematic secondary to individual disease course. OTD students administered the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure (COPM) to identify which daily routines and activities were impacted. Design students employed standardized questions to clarify how their activities were performed. Findings informed initial assistive device prototypes, which were then sent to FOP clients for user testing. After testing was completed, design students continued to prototype and conducted a second feedback interview. This program also included several interprofessional educational experiences designed by the OTD students for their design peers under occupational therapy (OT) and design faculty supervision. Content was created to reinforce FOP clients’ needs and was delivered through shared learning modules, activities, and peer-to-peer discussion. Weekly collaboration occurring in design coursework between disciplines and use of OT-related tools such as the COPM helped the design students leverage their skills by contextualizing what they observed when interacting with FOP clients, ultimately creating better products that met the needs of individuals with FOP. Findings presented include current data up to February 2022 from OTD and design interviews and FOP user feedback; data collection and prototyping will continue through May 2022. Outcomes demonstrated and reinforced the need for consistent, higher-level embedded interdisciplinary collaborative approaches that uniquely meet the needs of clients experiencing complex medical issues and help to expand the usability of assistive devices for other populations with complex issues.

Keywords: Interdisciplinary Collaboration, Assistive Devices, Design Education

DOI: 10.54941/ahfe1001655

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