MBA student presents at symposium in Vancouver
Caroline Portoghese ’16, a Master of Business Administration student and occupational therapist, presented at the International Seating Symposium in Vancouver on March 5.
Along with Dianne Goodwin of BlueSky Designs, Inc., Portoghese gave a presentation on the progress of their National Institutes of Health-funded study that hopes to develop a power mount for people with severe disabilities.
The SMART (Scalable, Modular and Accessible Robotic Technologies) mount enables a person with little or no arm or hand function to move, rotate and tilt devices or trays — from their bed or a wheelchair. Portoghese and Goodwin included results from focus groups and input from users, clinicians and designers in their presentation.
Portoghese became interested in specialty mount technology when she worked as a clinical specialist in occupational therapy. “I needed to find specialty mounts to address my client’s needs,” she explains. After realizing her clients with severe motor impairment had different needs, she and Goodwin got to work on a motorized version of the technology.
“Our hope is that this equipment will allow people with even the most severe disability to participate more fully at home and in the community," Portoghese says. “It might allow a parent with almost no movement to attend and participate in their child’s parent-teacher conferences independently, participate in a day-program or fully engage with their medical team.”
Organized by the University of British Columbia, the International Seating Symposium is an annual conference that seeks to address current and future developments in seating, positioning and mobility. Presentations are given in the areas of service delivery, product development, research and outcomes.