Title

Thinking outside the cardboard box: insights from a course to train rural Kenyans to make postural support devices from appropriate paper-based technology (APT) for children with cerebral palsy

Document Type

Article

Department

Paediatrics and Child Health (East Africa)

Abstract

Purpose: Suitable assistive devices for children with cerebral palsy (CP) in low-income countries are often unavailable. Devices made from APT are in use in several countries but are unevaluated.

Materials and methods: A 2-week training course focused on APT principles, measuring children and constructing postural support devices. Twenty-three Kenyans attended the course. The host organization identified four local children with CP who attended for assessment and measurement. Participants made the devices and children returned for fitting and necessary adjustment. Completion of post-course forms, action plans, visits after 14 months and contact 3 years later comprised the evaluation.

Results: All participants found the course beneficial and valued the networking opportunity provided. They appreciated the practicality and utility of locally manufactured cost effective devices. The trainees planned further implementation to provide assistive devices for children with CP in their localities. Follow-up visits revealed several challenges to local ongoing production.

Conclusions: Training people in low-income communities to make bespoke assistive devices for children with CP is straightforward, and the course was positively evaluated. However, maintaining device production is limited without local group support and stable leadership, ideally as part of an existing programme. Implications for rehabilitation Assistive devices are often unobtainable for children with cerebral palsy (CP) in low-income countries. APT is a cost effective way of fulfilling this need and it is relatively straightforward to train people who care for or work with those with CP to make devices using APT. Feedback from APT training suggests participants find the technique a practical way of producing assistive equipment for individuals with CP in their community. Maintaining device production requires support, leadership and increased public awareness of the use of APT at a local level.

Publication

Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology

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