A child plays with an adaptive toy at a display table

Annual Adaptive Expo Showcases Innovations in Occupational Therapy

The M.S.O.T. Class of 2024 showcased a variety of projects intended to improve the lives of children in the community

Students, faculty, professional staff, and members of community descended upon Arthur P. Girard Innovation Hall on Thursday, April 13, to celebrate UNE’s Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (M.S.O.T) program’s annual Adaptive Projects Expo.

A signature event of UNE’s Occupational Therapy program, the annual exposition highlights evidence-based interventions for children and families and showcases the creative adaptive work of the University’s first-year occupational therapy (OT) students.

UNE President James Herbert welcomes the crowd.

UNE President James Herbert welcomes the crowd.

Each year, students create projects designed to assist children and other clients in their everyday occupational and sensory engagement. This year’s projects, crafted by the M.S.O.T. Class of 2024, included sensory boards, cookbooks, modified toys, and more.

In total, there were over 20 projects that will go on to be used by clients and centers, including Falmouth Schools, Gallant Therapy Services, StoreySmith Pediatric Clinic, Child Developmental Services, and a number of local school districts, private practices, and families.

“I am always amazed at the innovation and creativity of our UNE M.S.O.T. students to collaborate with practitioners and clients to fill a need in the community,” remarked Elizabeth Crampsey, Ed.D., M.S., OTR/L, associate clinical professor of occupational therapy at UNE.

Students in the M.S.O.T. Class of 2024 presented their projects to each other, their professors, local OT practitioners, family, alumni, and the community and streamed their creations live on Facebook for the world to see.

Engaging All the Senses

Three female students showcase the pictorial cookbook they designed

M.S.O.T. Class of 2024 students Yasmeen Tum, Katelyn Hutchins, and Caleigh Pimentel

Of the many projects included an adaptive pictorial cookbook created by students Katelyn Hutchins, Caleigh Pimentel, and Yasmeen Tum.

The “Picture This” cookbook, to go to Gallant Therapy Services, is designed for children to engage in cooking through touch, flavor, sound, vision, and taste. Recipes are organized by ease and level of precaution — from “Green” recipes that require no heat or sharp tools, to “Yellow” recipes where microwaves may be used, to “Red” preparations that involve adult supervision.

Each recipe in the book has a cover page with sensory considerations, each recipe can be removed from its waterproof sleeve and brought into the kitchen, and all tools and ingredients are separated into easy-to-read lists. “That way, the children know exactly what to expect up front when looking at the recipes,” remarked Pimentel.

In creating the cookbook, Hutchins, Pimentel, and Tum were able to see, firsthand, how their client’s patients will interact with the recipes, as they developed them together.

“We got that sensory input that a child is going to get, so we actually were able to understand from the onset what is was actually like to be involved,” Tum remarked. “We call that task analysis; we’re really looking exactly at what it takes to do tasks and making sure we understand our product so it can better support our clients.”

Pimentel said it was a valuable experience to work with outside clients while still studying to become an occupational therapist.

“Personally, this was an amazing experience,” Pimentel commented. “It was exciting to choose a project and think through it using an occupational lens. And when we took the cookbook down our own road, it was uplifting to hear positive feedback from our client. I think this was a really positive and fun experience for all of us.”

A child plays with an adaptive toy at a display table
Three students showcase their weighted animal plushes, designed to help with anxiety
A child plays with an adaptive toy at a display table
A view down the row of project tables
A pediatric center representative poses with a therapy dog, a Golden Retriever

Innovating the OT sphere

Students instruct a child how tp play with the marble run they built by hand

Michaela Svendsen and Hannah Hutchins display their VMI marble run, which integrates 3D-printed parts.

Michaela Svendsen and Hannah Hutchins knew they wanted to innovate when they created an adaptive visual motor integration (VMI) marble run game for their client, a pediatric outpatient clinic that caters to individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) developmental delays, and other sensory processing conditions.

The spy-themed board allows children to drop marbles through a funnel at the top and follow them along as they bounce off an array of obstacles as a way of practicing and refining their hand-eye coordination. The twist? Svendsen and Hutchins worked cross-campus with UNE’s P.D. Merrill Makerspace, a fully equipped laboratory for creating and building and developing solutions to real-world problems, to construct a number of their project’s elements, including a 3D-printed funnel, spinners, and a collection cup at the bottom of the device.

“We worked really closely with our mentor on what details we thought would be best to print,” Svendsen said. “She was incredibly helpful in explaining the 3D-printing process and helping our imagination come to life.”

The marble run is an example of how UNE’s occupational therapy students are thinking toward the future of the profession and the integration of technology and manufacturing to provide better care for patients.

“It’s super exciting to think how this tool is going to make a difference in a kid’s life and in their treatment throughout their interventions,” Svendsen said. “We really used everything that we’ve learned in class in putting this project together to make it the best thing these kids can use.”

Building client connections — the old-fashioned way

Three female students demonstrate their adaptive board games for UNE President Herbert

Bailey Lynch, Kaitlyn Bubnowicz, and Sierra Tartre demonstrate their adaptive board games for President Herbert.

Sometimes, simple is best. That was the mindset Bailey Lynch, Kaitlyn Bubnowicz, and Sierra Tartre used in developing a set of adaptive, sensory board games for a blind client at a local school district.

The trio modified a set of existing board games — and developed their own materials — to make them more tactile for their client, who is working their way up to reading Braille. Game board sections and pieces in an adaptive “Candy Land” set allow for tactile discrimination using matching composites. The board game also has bordered edges so that all the pieces remain contained. The group also constructed wooden card holders for card games, so the client doesn’t have to hold them, a move made to facilitate easier play with other children.

The project was more than a grade to the students, who were able to meet their client virtually prior to beginning the assignment.

“Meeting our client over Zoom really brought it all together and made it much more personal,” Bubnowicz said. “They are super excited and grateful that we're doing this for them. It really made the project real, and we were able to see firsthand the difference it would make in a child’s life.”

Two female students pose in front of their project, sensory bins

Gabriella Crugnale and Taylor McPartlin pose with their sensory bins project.

View the Livestream from the Expo

Watch the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy Class of 2024 showcase their adaptive projects, which will go on to improve the lives of children and clients at various locations including pediatric clinics and local schools.