Independence Day is a time to celebrate freedom and the spirit of self-reliance. For occupational therapists, this occasion holds a special significance as they empower individuals to regain independence in their daily lives. In this blog post, we will explore three remarkable tools that occupational therapists use to support independent living: the FunctionalHand, EaZyHolds, and Sock Aids. These innovative devices have revolutionized the way people with physical limitations can perform essential tasks, enhancing their overall quality of life.
Functional Hand: The FunctionalHand is a groundbreaking tool designed to assist individuals with limited hand dexterity and strength. Occupational therapists recognize the importance of hand function in performing numerous activities of daily living (ADLs), such as eating, grooming, and writing. Created by Linda Merry, OTR and Celine Skertich, PT the FunctionalHand is tailored to assist individuals who have difficulty with grasp, providing a means to hold objects for fun and function. Check out this video of Krista painting her nails using the FunctionalHand, By promoting independence in ADLs, the FunctionalHand restores confidence and autonomy to individuals facing hand-related challenges.
EaZyHolds: Another remarkable tool in an occupational therapist’s arsenal are EaZyHolds. This ingenious device addresses the difficulties faced by individuals with reduced grip strength or fine motor skills. EaZyHolds can be attached to a variety of objects, such as utensils, brushes, and writing instruments creating a strap that minimizes the need for grip strength. These handles ensure a secure and comfortable grip. By minimizing the effort required to hold objects, EaZyHolds empower individuals to engage in activities they may have previously found challenging. Whether it’s enjoying a meal, painting, or digging in the garden, EaZyHolds promote independence and enable users to pursue their passions with confidence.
Sock Aids: Putting on socks may seem like a simple task for most, but for individuals with limited mobility, it can be a significant hurdle. Sock Aids are assistive devices designed to make donning socks a breeze. Occupational therapists often recommend Sock Aids to individuals with arthritis, back pain, or limited range of motion. These devices consist of a flexible, sock-shaped cradle attached to long handles. By sliding the sock onto the cradle and using the handles to position it on the foot, individuals can effortlessly put on their socks without straining or bending. Sock Aids not only save time and energy but also restore a sense of independence in dressing, allowing individuals to start their day on the right foot.
As we celebrate Independence Day, it is important to acknowledge the invaluable role occupational therapists play in promoting autonomy and self-sufficiency. Through innovative tools like the FunctionalHand, EaZyHolds, and Sock Aids, these professionals empower individuals with physical limitations to overcome challenges and regain independence in their daily lives. By harnessing the power of technology and creative design, occupational therapists inspire hope, resilience, and a renewed sense of freedom. Let us salute their unwavering dedication and commitment to enhancing the quality of life for countless individuals, as we commemorate the spirit of independence on this special day.
On June 8th the Therapro team was supposed to set up a booth at the 2023 New York City’s Department of Education (NYCDOE) Assistive Technology Expo but unfortunately poor air quality from the Canadian wildfires meant the event was canceled. However, we still wanted to showcase the many ways assistive technology can be used, in the classroom, to engage all learners. In this blog post we are covering the modification ideas we were planning to display at the conference.
There is a lot involved in reading a book; readers must have the ability to attend and focus, they must have the fine motor ability to turn the pages of a book, and they must have the visual skills needed to see the words on the page. When reading a book is further complicated by these challenges, engagement can decrease. Fortunately, there are several ways assistive technology can be used to address these challenges.
Adaptations for Low Vision or Decreased Focus
Highlighter strips are simply strips of specially designed yellow material that stick to the pages of a book with static electricity. Highlighter strips brighten written words on a page making visual processing easier. These strips are especially useful for students with attention difficulties or who have low vision.
Slant boards have a variety of uses, for students who have difficulty with attention and focus they are a great tool to use when reading! The angle of the board will bring the book closer to eye level minimizing distractions and increasing focus. Pro tip: Learn more about the different uses of slant boards in our previous post: More Than Just A Slant Board!
Adaptations forFine Motor Difficulties
Wikki Stix are wax colored strings that are often used for craft projects. However, these moldable, slightly sticky strings are a great option for creating removable ‘page lifts’. Simply shape the Wikki Stix into a small spiral or mound and place one on each page of a book. This will separate the pages of the book making it easier for students with fine motor limitations to turn the pages of the book.
Adaptations forEmerging Readers
Step by Steps (available as Little or Big) are often used as communication devices. However, they can be a handy tool for learners with limited or emerging literacy skills. To use, record as you read aloud the pages of the book. When the user is ready to ‘read’, they would hit the switch to hear the recording of the book. To make this more interactive and to better imitate the act of flipping through the pages of a book, use the sequential feature to record page by page. With this the ‘reader’ would hit the switch to hear what is on the next ‘page’.
Just like reading a book, writing also requires many skills; these skills include the fine motor ability to effectively hold a writing utensil, the visual perceptual ability to coordinate visual input with motor output, and the sensory ability to accurately grade force. Difficulties in any of these areas can adversely effect handwriting legibility, speed, and endurance for writing tasks. The good news is that there are many accommodations and modifications that could be used to help with these difficulties.
Adaptations for DecreasedHandwriting Legibility
Handwriting legibility is often influenced by writing with poor sizing, difficulty orienting letters to the writing line, or letter spacing issues. Check out some of the options available to address these areas.
LegiLiners: LegiLiners are a rolling ink stamp that can be used to create a writing line on paper with open spaces. A writing line can be a game changer for students who have difficulty writing with the appropriate size. LegiLiners are available in a variety of styles and even have some great options to help out in math class!
Highlighter Paper: Highlighter paper features highlighting in the lower writing area (available is yellow or blue). This highlighting helps indicate where letters should be placed. Another feature of highlighter paper is that the solid lines have been separated to assist the student with locating the writing area.
Raised Line Paper: Raised line paper is a unique paper that features a subtle raised line to indicate the top and bottom writing line. These gentle cues can be a great reminder for students who write outside of the writing area.
Spacers: Finger Spacers and Star Spacers each offer support to help students better understand correct spacing. The Finger Spacer is a great tool to teach correct spacing between written words; it is available as a one finger (1st to 3rd Grade) or two finger Pre-K to 2nd Grade) spacer. The Star Spacer is a clever handwriting tool made of see-through plastic that acts as a guide to help the child understand spacing, sizing, and alignment of letters and words to promote more legible handwriting.
Difficulty grasping objects can impact a student’s ability to not only participate in academic tasks but can also impact the student’s ability to participate in extracurriculars like music or art class. Two unique devices to help with grasp and grip are the Eazyhold Universal Cuffs and the the functionalhand.
Eazyhold Universal Cuffs are an innovative solution to help students who have a weak or non existent grasp. These handy tools can be used not only in the classroom but also during extracurricular activities like holding a paintbrush in art class, holding drumsticks in music class, or a water bottle during gym. The silicone strap simply drapes over the back of the hand and the object is inserted into the two holes on opposite ends of the Eazyhold allowing the object to be securely held with the palmer side of the hand. Pro tip, not sure which Eazyhold is right for you? Check out Therapro’s What Can I Adapt Handy Guide for sizing recommendations!
Thefunctionalhand is another tool to aid grasp. The functionalhand‘s unique and flexible design allows the users to hold functional tools of many shapes and sizes in both the vertical and horizontal orientation. It is truly a universal cuff that is durable and supports a wide age range and types of disabilities. Pro Tip the functionalhand and Eazyholds work great when paired together to offer students both control and a secure grasp on tools.
Therapro had many ideas ready to display at the 2023 NYCDOE Assistive Technology Expo; we are disappointed we couldn’t meet you all in person but we are glad to have the opportunity to share these ideas here!
On May 1st, the Therapro team made a local stop at the 2023 Massachusetts Early Intervention Consortium (MEIC). We had a great time meeting attendees, demonstrating some of our favorite early learning products, and giving away prizes! If you couldn’t make it, don’t worry, in this blog post we are covering all of the 2023 MEIC conference highlights!
By far one of the best features of an in person conference is the ability to give live demonstrations; while we do our best to adequately describe the products on our website, there are some things you just have to experience! Happy Senso, Rainbow River Stones, and Rody The Riding Horse were just some of the demo products attendees had the opportunity to try out at the conference.
Happy Senso definitely elicited some of the best reactions from attendees who tried this amazing sensory gel. Happy Senso has a unique cold feeling and it pops and fizzles when it is squished by the hands. Attendees were full of ideas for ways this fun sensory gel could be used in sessions, one physical therapists even thought it might be fun to walk through!
Rody The Riding Horse is fun way to elicit balance reactions and provide children with soothing rhythmic movement. Attendees at MEIC enjoyed giving Rody squishes and squeezes with many attendees remarking on the durable feel of the material. Another fun feature of Rody is the availability of the rocker base.
Rainbow River Stones are a set of of six brightly colored durable plastic “stones” of varying sizes that can be used for all sorts of gross motor and sensory play. Designed with the traveling therapist in mind, they easily nest inside of one another and even come with a convenient carry bag! Conference attendees enjoyed the big size of each ‘stone’ and the different textured surfaces.
At every conference that Therapro attends there are always a few products that sell out quickly. MEIC was no different, for this event the conference all-stars included the Sensory Spoon, My 1st Dinosaurs, and the book Just Take a Bite.
The Sensory Spoon is a unique tool that was developed in collaboration with a speech language pathologist and two occupational therapists. The Sensory Spoon focuses on the development of self-feeding with infants as young as 7 months old. Its unique characteristics include a short, textured handle that offers sensory input to the palm for grasping, a natural “stop” that prevents gagging or deep insertion into the mouth, and a flexible, smooth texture.
The Smartmax My 1st Dinosaurs are a fun, puzzle like activity; each of the soft dinosaur pieces easily click together with magnets. Attendees were impressed with how easily the pieces clicked together. With the Smartmax My 1st Dinosaurs children can build five dinosaurs or they can use their imagination to mix and match for some crazy prehistoric creations.
Therapro loves giveaways; at MEIC 2023 we had so many things to give to attendees.
Prizes! It wouldn’t be a conference without prizes. We brought along a functionalhand, a set of EazyHolds, and a Two Minute Turtle Toothbrush Timer to giveaway. Pro Tip: Attendees loved our idea for using the Turtle Timer as a handwashing timer, simply use the lights to cue washing the palms of the hands, the top of the left hand, the top of the right hand, and the fingers.
Resources! One of the core beliefs we have at Therapro is that achieving therapeutic goals is not only about the use of products, but also about the resources that educate consumers on the uniqueness and rationale behind the products. Therapro’s Handguides are one of the many free resources we have available. At MEIC 2023 Therapro’s What Can I Adapt? Handy Guide and Choose Your Chew! Handy Guide were well received by attendees.
The MEIC 2023 conference was full of highlights! Attendees a big thank you for the warm reception we received, we enjoyed talking to you all! The Therapro team is looking forward to MEIC 2024.