Happy OT Month 2016! Four years after initially learning about OT, three years after going through the wildly difficult OT school application process, two years after starting OT school, and just FIVE MONTHS before the end of my time as an OT student, I’m still as passionate about this profession as ever!
Although of course I celebrate OT all day every day, this month is a great time to advocate for OT, educate others about the profession, and celebrate the achievements of OT students, practitioners, educators, and supporters! And since I love to celebrate, for OT Month 2016 I’ve created a guide to products, publications, and projects created by OT practitioners from around the world!
Read on to learn more about products created by and for OT and OTA students and practitioners across practice areas!
- The Pocket OT: Cara Koscinski is an author, presenter, and practitioner who has created multiple resources for the caregivers of children with special needs. Check out her books, tools, and advice for professionals and parents!
- Fun & Function: Founded by Aviva Weiss, MS, OTR/L and her husband Haskel Weiss, the Fun and Function company makes hundreds of toys, tools, and therapeutic items that help support functioning in children with special needs or sensory challenges. I visited their booth at Conference last year, and it was awesome! Their products are popular for a reason. 🙂
- Timocco Gaming Systems: Timocco virtual gaming systems were created by Sarit Tresser, B.A., M.Sc Occupational Therapy, and her business partners Eran Arden and Shai Yagur. This Israeli-based company produces games with a therapeutic element that can make range of motion exercises, physical movement, and learning more fun for pediatric clients!
- CanDo Kiddo: Rachel Coley, MS, OTR/L started developing her line of products to promote healthy infant and early childhood development after working in pediatrics for nearly 10 years and having her own child. Her play blankets* and tummy time pillows* are a wonderful idea for new and practiced parents, and they’re so OT – the fun and function is all rolled into one soft, educational package! (Rachel has also written several books, which you can find the links to below!)
* These products are currently unavailable, as Rachel is focusing on taking care of a new addition to her family at this time! Check her Etsy site for updates.
- Alert Program: The Alert Program was developed by a pair of OTs, Sherry Shellenberger and Mary Sue Williams, who wanted to help use their specialized knowledge and lengthy experience in pediatric practice to help children with various challenges learn self-regulation skills that would help them be more successful in everyday life. This innovated program won an award from AOTA in 2003 for “Excellence in Intervention, Development, and Dissemination,” and today it is commonly used by OTs, special educators, and parents of children with special needs.
- SnapType App: The hugely popular SnapType app was actually created by a former OT student named Amberlynn Slavin when she was a second year OT student at Springfield College in Massachusetts (otswithapps.com). The app allows students (and others) to take photos of worksheets, forms, and other documents and add text anywhere! I was fortunate enough to meet Amberlynn in person at the 2016 AOTA Conference, and it was so exciting to hear her talking about the success she has had with users of the app and its global reach to countries and clinicians around the world!
- PediApp Finder: Developed by OT students at Dominican University as part of a master’s thesis project, PediApp Finder is described as “a tool for pediatric OTs to facilitate and streamline the process of searching for apps for use in pediatric intervention, as well as providing a platform for therapists to share the most up-to-date app technology to stay current in pediatric therapy.” Not only can therapists search for useful apps, they can share their favorites as well! PediApp Finder is available for FREE download on the Google Play store.
- Vinyl “Munchy Ball” from Therapy Fun Zone: This is very simple idea that can have great outcomes for kids! Tonya Cooley developed the “Munchy Ball” as a cheap, simple, versatile way to help children build fine motor skills and engage in sensory and imaginative play. She even has a handbook with tips for getting the most out of your Munchy Ball!
- Miss Awesomeness: My list simply wouldn’t be complete without my original OT hero “Miss Awesomeness!” After working for several years in pediatric practice, Karen Dobyns branched out and started her own business providing specialized pediatric therapy services, including “virtual and local workshops, in-services, and consultations for schools, businesses, brands/toys, programs, in-home, individuals, and families.” Learn more about her services and follow her adventures in entrepreneurism, OTD school, and life in general on her website and long-running blog!
Adult & Geriatric Practice
- Saebo, Inc.: This company is headquartered in Charlotte, NC, and it was founded by two occupational therapists (Henry Hoffman, MS, OT/L and his brother John Farrell) in 2001. Since then, they have developed multiple well-known and evidence-based products that help improve outcomes for clients with upper limb injuries, such as the SaeboGlove.
- Releas Splint: Joseph Padova, OTR/L, of MossRehab originally developed the RELEAS splint to increase the independence of stroke survivors by allowing users to open their hand and use it in functional activities. Today, his splint is being used in clinical research and is also available for children. And in 2013, Padova was a finalist in the Best Medical Device category in the Innovation Awards sponsored by Philadelphia Business Journal and UnitedHealthcare! You can read an article about the RELEAS splint’s development and use with clients here.
- OT Toolkit: The OT Toolkit, created by Cheryl Hall, OT, is a resource guide for therapists who work in physical rehabilitation and/or with older adults. It is available in either ebook or print forms, and includes over 600 pages of diagrams, treatment ideas, and resources for new and veteran practitioners. You can purchase a copy at the OT Toolkit booth at the 2016 AOTA Conference Expo!
- The Helpful Hand: Occupational therapist Marc Bennett developed this brace to help people with limited or no functional use of their hand grasp and successfully use items to perform ADLs, engage in leisure occupations, write, and enjoy more independent lives!
- Anti-Tremor “Readi Steadi” Glove: Occupational therapist Krista Madere, of The Neuromedical Center in Baton Rouge, LA, developed the Readi Steadi weighted orthosis after working with numerous clients whose tremors prevented them from completing basic tasks and living satisfactory lives. Although the product is only in the early stages of development, it is a promising piece of technology with the potential to benefit hundreds of people in the future!
Books by OTs
- The Munchy Ball Handbook: Tonya Cooley, of Therapy Fun Zone, recently released her “Munchy Ball Handbook,” which includes fun ideas for play with her Munchy Ball toy (see #9 above) that incorporate therapeutic activities as well!
- The Flat Head Syndrome Fix: As mentioned above, Rachel Coley, OT/L recently published this book to help caregivers protect their babies and better support their early development. Give it a read and share it with parents interested in promoting healthy infant development. Rachel has also written several other books about early childhood play and development, which you can find HERE.
- Handwriting Development Assessment and Remediation: A Practice Model for Occupational Therapists: Katherine Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, the creator of the “Handwriting with Katherine” website, has released a new book just in time for OT Month! The book is “designed to provide a practice model that addresses handwriting development skills and incorporates a step-by-step assessment process that includes rubrics to identify behaviors that indicate the underlying developmental skill areas that would benefit from remediation.” It is appropriate for OT students and experienced practitioners, and includes a wide variety of practice strategies.
Adults & General Practice
- Home Health OT Strategies and Insights: This ebook provides simple, practical, and actionable advice for OT practitioners in home health settings. Author Monika Lukasiewic, OTR/L, draws on a wealth of personal experience to help readers get organized, improve outcomes, and better serve home health clients.
- Treebarking: This was a thought-provoking, entertaining book about therapist Nesta Rovina’s experiences doing home health OT in California. It provides a great view of what working in home health can be like, and it is an easy read.
- Start and Run a Therapy Practice: This book by Scott Harmon, OT, is a great choice for anybody looking to start or strengthen their OT private practice. Whether you are just starting out or you already have a practice, this book is full of helpful advice for therapists who are also entrepreneurs. Scott also has a series of FREE podcasts covering topics from creating an app to interviews with other therapy experts and business owners.
Prospective OT Students
- The Most Important Things You Need to Know about Becoming an Occupational Therapy Practitioner: A Guide for Prospective Students: This free ebook was written by two of my favorite OT bloggers, Christie Kiley, MA, OTR/L (Mama OT) and Abby Brayton-Chung, MS, OTR/L (OT Café), for prospective OT students. I helped edit this book, so I can say without a doubt that it is one of the best resources out there for people interested in pursuing occupational therapy. Be sure to share it with any prospective OT students you know!
- OT Potential T-Shirts: Sarah Lyons is an OT blogger with a true passion for her profession. She has designed several “OT-shirts” and sweatshirts with the goal of helping OT practitioners stand apart in the workplace (and feel amazing while they’re at work!).
- brOT Movement: In 2011, a group of male OT students came together to help make the 2017 Centennial Vision a reality by encouraging and supporting diversity in the profession. You can help support the movement by purchasing a “brOT-shirt” on their site!
- TherapyTee: While I don’t know that this site is actually run by an OT, I couldn’t pass up the chance to share these super cool OT-shirts! You can shop by school, and there’s even a shirt for all the OT and OTA Star Wars fans out there!
- Samuel Merritt OT Student Inventions: As part of their education, OT students at Samuel Merritt University in California are required to create innovative products to improve or support function in clients of all kinds. Check out these students’ awesome inventions at their Flickr page!
Finally, to learn about more amazing accomplishments, inventions, and ideas by OTs, you can visit the following sites:
- OT Potential “Interviews” Page: Blogger Sarah Lyons frequently interviews OT authors and inventors, and I love getting the perspectives of OTs in diverse areas of practice. Her Therapy Trading Store page also features several products by OTs working in a variety of practice areas.
- Maddak Awards: Every year they host the annual Maddak Awards competition, which encourages OT and OTA students and practitioners to find solutions for the challenges real clients face. I have seen some truly amazing inventions at the Maddak Awards booth at Conference for the past couple years, and it’s so great to see the ingenious devices and solutions people create!
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it is certainly a testament to the limitless creativity, expertise, and business savvy of the amazing people in OT!
Happy OT month, and happy shopping and sharing!
What are your favorite OT-related products? Did I leave anyone off this list? Let me know in the comments!
Note: This list is for informational purposes only. I make no claims as to the value or quality of any products listed above, and I am not receiving compensation for including any items on this list. However, I do know several of the OTs included, and I can say that they are pretty great people with pretty great products!