Assistive Technology Seminar Day Unites Students and Technology

Students gain interprofessional training through assistive technology

Students from the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) School of Allied Health Sciences Doctor of Physical Therapy and Master of Occupational Therapy programs had the opportunity to participate in the fifth assistive technology seminar day, during which they learned about assistive technology products and techniques for implementing them in therapy. The event offered the students the opportunity to use and evaluate equipment they had learned about in class.

‘The Assistive Technology Seminar Day is part of a combined course within the School of Allied Health Sciences, a physical therapy class and an occupational therapy class,” said Douglas Dendy, P.T., MPT, PCS, assistant professor in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program. “The seminar is designed so that after all didactic learning about assistive technology products, students can experience the equipment first hand. Students have direct access to equipment that retails for up to $75,000; direct suppliers bring the products and educate students on their equipment.”

For the students, the experience is an opportunity to develop a better understanding of how the products they’ve learned about can improve the quality of life for their patients.

“I am a very visual learner; therefore, seeing the equipment in front of you while the suppliers talk about it really helped me understand and differentiate the equipment mentioned in class,” said Sarah Allen, Doctor of Physical Therapy program student. “I believe it is very important for us to know about the products, their vendors and how to operate the equipment since we will be involved in the process of selecting an assistive device.”

The event was also meant to cultivate interprofessionalism among occupational therapy and physical therapy students.

“To promote interprofessionalism, Master of Occupational Therapy and Doctor of Physical Therapy program students are in groups together, “ Dendy explained. “Breakout sessions are designed so that occupational therapy students can help teach physical therapy students how to use low-tech devices like button pulls to put on a shirt. Additionally, physical therapy students assist occupational therapy students in using equipment such as ultra-light wheelchairs.”

The sessions included contests, such as races to complete tasks using the assistive technology products, as well as opportunities to discuss their interdisciplinary applications.

“I enjoyed being in groups with physical therapy students to gain insight into how their profession uses the various technologies and equipment,” said Stephanie Dotson, Master of Occupational Therapy program student.

Since the students will likely work interprofessionally in the future to select assistive products for their patients, they appreciated the opportunity to demonstrate the products and discuss their functionality to one another.

“We will most likely be involved in the process of selecting assistive devices along with occupational therapists,” Allen said. “I enjoyed interacting with the OT students. Sometimes, I would not know how to use a product, what it was for or its importance until an occupational therapist explained it to from their perspective. I also enjoyed teaching them what I knew about different products and their benefit for certain patients.”

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