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Blog One; Adaptive Equipment Module

 

First blog:

Title: Exploring Adaptive Equipment Course

The Adaptive Equipment Course was offered as a module within the Physiotherapy Program in the Spring semester of 20178. Before attending this course, I had a vague idea about the kind of technical knowledge the moule will offer and the project I will be asked to perform.  Among the possible projects that I imagined I would be performing is to make an assistive device for the hand or the lower extremity. Given this limited scope of vision, I was eager to learn about the numerous other techniques and possibilities the course offers.

In the first few lectures, we learned how to help persons with disability maintain a stable posture in lying, sitting, and standing positions -- whether the person's muscle tone is spastic or flaccid.  This is done by applying several strategies to change and try to control the tone to create a more stable, comfortable, and healthier posture.

While learning all that, we came to realize that there is plenty of strategies that you can apply to make a disabled child or even an adult sit, sleep, or stand in a better way where he can be more efficient, more comfortable, and more appealing in his\her appearance.

After that, we specifically learned how to take proper measurements of a wheelchair to ensure the wheelchair is appropriate for the size and condition of the patient. For example, the seat height has different levels depending on whether the person can propel himself or not. It is measured either from the seat to the person's shoulder blades, from the seat to his shoulders, or from the seat to the top of his head. The top-of-head measurement depends on a patient's ability to control the movement of his/her head or his/her posture on his/her own.

In those lectures, we also learned about the different types of wheelchairs available on the market. We came to realize that some of those, unfortunately, are not available in our country due to many political and financial factors, which deprives our patients and children of the privileges of these techniques.

Finally, we practiced taking measurements to fit a wheelchair ahead of a visit to Ramallah, where we will be measuring real patients in desperate need of an efficient, well-fitted wheelchair that we will be adapting for them.

Our ultimate goal as we learn all these techniques is to ensure that patients do not only have access to the best device possible, but also to expertly adapted devices that suit their needs and conditions.  The skills we learned within the module are indispensable to achieve this goal, but it is harder to achieve without establishing a channel of communication with those who need this service. All these tasks combined pose a challenge and a great responsibility on the students and the module designer to make sure that the patients and their families are well served and satisfied.  

In my next blog, I will be talking about the encounter with the patients and their families "Outside the Walls of Bethlehem University." It is going to be   a new experience, a new adventure, and a new side of ourselves to explore.


Rana Amro, third year student
Physiotherapy Program

Bethlehem University Foundation
Email: brds@bufusa.org
Phone: +1-240-241-4381
Fax: +1-240-553-7691
Beltsville, MD USA
Bethlehem University in the Holy Land
E-mail: info@bethlehem.edu
Phone: +972-2-274-1241
Fax: +972-2-274-4440
Bethlehem, Palestine