Makers Making Change Helps Occupational Therapists Find Affordable Assistive Technology Solutions for Their Clients

Since Makers Making Change’s inception in 2016, we’ve made it a priority to help occupational therapists across North America find affordable assistive technology solutions for their clients.

As a corporate partner of the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT), Makers Making Change has attended the CAOT conference every year since 2017. In 2018, we hosted an OT buildathon at the CAOT conference in Vancouver.

In our assistive device library, devices range from low tech solutions like the 3D printed pen ball, which can help a person with arthritis more easily grip a pen, to more high tech in nature, like the LipSync, a mouth operated joystick, which allows people without the use of their hands to use smartphones and tablets.

However, unlike commercial devices which are mass manufactured for profit, Makers Making Change devices are built by volunteer makers for the cost of parts, allowing occupational therapists to provide low cost solutions for clients. The designs are open source, meaning that the devices can also be customized for a clients needs.

Each week leading up to the CAOT Conference, we’ll be looking at occupational therapists and their experiences with Makers Making Change. If you’re attending CAOT 2022 in beautiful Whistler, BC, come say hello to us at booth #16.

“To Be Able to Have [A Device] at Such a Low Cost Is Really Wonderful”

A blue 3d printed universal cuff with a fork

For one occupational therapist in Vancouver, BC, Makers Making Change came in handy when her client with a spinal cord injury needed a customized utensil holder.

looked at what was available, kind of commercially and that sort of thing, and we did try a few different things, and he’d had a universal cuff, but the way that his function was, his hand would always fall into his food, so it would get mucky, and it just wasn’t the right angle for what he needed,”

She connected with a maker, who worked with them to customize the Personalized Cuff Utensil Holder design for her clients needs.

“[The maker was] so professional, and respectful, and accommodating, and really kind of listening to what the specific issues were with the client and what we tried and what hadn’t worked. And then he came up with prototypes that we tried, a few little tweaks here and there to eventually come up with a cuff with some different attachments,” she says.

The new Custom Cuff Utensil Holder works like a charm.

“[It had] a really great impact on the day to day function of this client.”

Once the design was finalized, the client decided they wanted the device in a different colour, which the maker gladly obliged.

“It’s something really simple, but to this client, that was a significant value to him that the device looked sleek, and didn’t look like some of these more kind of medical-y looking commercial devices, and so that was a really huge benefit,” she says.

“The whole experience and having the device at the end of the day really is priceless, and to be able to have that at such a low cost is really wonderful.”

Looking for device that suits your clients needs? Check out our assistive device library with 150 devices available open source addressing a wide range of needs. Have a need that isn’t addressed in our library? Suggest a design challenge to our community of makers. Looking to join the Makers Making Change community? Let’s get started!