Swinburne University of Technology’s Medical Technology Victoria (MedTechVic) is transforming support for wheelchair users by upskilling physical and occupational therapists.
The research and collaboration hub has hosted a series of workshops to help allied health and occupational therapists better understand and perform minor adjustments required for comfortable and functional wheelchair use, preventing the need to refer users to other providers for more costly and time-consuming appointments.
MedTechVic supports and connects individuals and organisations across the assistive and medical device sector in Victoria, ensuring rapid clinical and technical, prototyping and manufacturing of new ideas.
A world of difference
OT Mark Hanson attended the workshops as an occupational therapist and is now working as a clinical advisor with MTV.
He said the workshops are beneficial not only for allied health staff, but for the overall experience for the end user.
“I use the analogy of the princess and the pea – one small change makes a world of difference,” he said.
“Often these adjustments require people to see other specialists, so you’re having to line up two to three calendars.
“But these workshops give occupational therapists more confidence to represent the profession as an equipment specialist and make some adjustments themselves, within reason.”
Nathan Tanner, who has cerebral palsy and spastic diplegia, is currently in the process of considering his first fully customised wheelchair.
He attended the workshops as a volunteer so the therapists had someone with lived experience to learn from.
“I had an absolute blast in the assessment and the crew I was with taught me a lot, and let me know that I was teaching them a bit also,” he said.
“The team was fantastic and made such a great experience. I would love to be involved again.”
Olivia Beattie, an occupational therapist in the Royal Children’s Hospital’s Paediatric Rehabilitation Service, said the course is one of the most valuable she has attended.
“It provided a well-balanced combination of theory and hands-on learning experiences,” she said.
“I would recommend this course to clinicians of all experience levels to further consolidate their understanding of complex and non-complex wheelchair prescription, modification, and mechanical assessment tool evaluations.”