Friday, June 12, 2009

MacGyver Kits

Previously mentioned on this Blog were the "MacGyver Kits" (apologies for any legal or copyright infringements) we took with us on our journey. These kits were projects developed as part of our second year students coursework in the OT program at VCU. As their project leader, I requested 2 kits that were portable and contained items that we would need to modify or build adaptive equipment in Ghana using the natural materials readily available in country. The students, using the Disabled Village Children book as a guide, came up with a variety of items that packed fairly easily into one large duffel bag and 1 book bag.

Some of the contents of the kit included: Velcro, superglue, duct tape, piping insulation, PVC pipes, dowel rods, paint sticks, puffy paint, straws, balloons, mole skin, foam pads, scissors, knife, saw with protective cover, foldable shovel, hammer, screw driver with interchangeable heads, more duct tape, sewing kit, rope with differing widths, D-rings, pens/markers, rubber bands, nails/screws, laminating sheets...and more. Here is a picture of the kit materials laid out for packing pre-trip:

The kit definitely came in handy and we actually did an inservice for the teachers and staff New Horizons School on how to adapt school, self-care, and play materials for the children they serve. I will let the students share some of their own creations but I am most proud of the sock-aid made out of a used water bottle that I helped to make.

Not knowing what to expect (or what we would be asked to do) going into this trip, both myself and the students had to be flexible and quick thinking to meet the needs of the individuals we saw. This was a great hands-on learning experience for the students and a very good wake-up for me since it has been a while since I have done some of these things (you know, ivory tower and all...). The MacGyver Kits definitely came in handy and I would bring many of the materials on our next trip. What is unfortunate is that some of these materials are not easily found in Ghana (e.g. laminating sheets, Velcro, puffy paint for raised lines)so the sustainability is limited. What would be better, and could be accomplished with more time on future trips is trying to get a better understanding of what materials are available and how to use these materials to get the job done.

Along this train of thought, we met a physiotherapist volunteering at the New Horizons school who was working with Appropriate Paper Based Technologies. This is essentially using a form of paper mache which they were using to make standing frames and positioning devices for children with cerebral palsy. This was very cool and something that can be done anywhere in the world for a very limited cost. You can see one of the seating devices below (the theraband is from our kit). Very cool!

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