Unreasonable Assumptions

Posted on Tuesday 29th May, 2012

EDRIC's Chairman and Deputy Chairman, Geoff Adams-Spink and Björn Håkansson, visited an international conference for occupational therapists in Stockholm on May 25 and 26 to promote DysNet, the limb difference network, and the Ex-Center, a specialist clinic for dysmelia in Stockholm.

"Why are you people here?" asked the inquisitive occupational therapist (OT). 

"Actually, we are the real experts - you people are here to learn from us," replied EDRIC's laconic Deputy Chairman, Björn Håkansson. 


Björn and I were attending COTEC 2012 - an international conference in Stockholm for OTs to get together and share ideas.  In addition to his work running EDRIC, Björn is president of Sweden's FfdN - the thalidomide association for people in that country - and plays an important role running a centre of excellence for limb impaired people in the Swedish capital. 

So this year, the Ex-Center and EDRIC shared a stand in the exhibition area of COTEC to promote our respective organisations and each other.  Fortunately, most of those who approached us seemed unfazed by having to deal with a bunch of people with missing limbs!

The other exhibitors seemed as interested in us as we were in them: Salli Systems from Finland had an ingenious chair/table combo which is ideal for people who, like me, have short arms and end up having to use tablet devices and laptops at the wrong height. 

Geoff at Elbow table

Of course, at home, I have a motorised desk so that I'm always working at the correct height.  But using one of Salli's Saddle Chairs with an 'elbow table' - which is what they call it - I can have a compact and ergonomically correct workstation to move from room to room and even to dismantle and take with me. 

Actually, I'm about to take some holiday in Poland and I intend to get down to writing my book while I'm there.  So using a device like this is the ideal solution to save my back and neck from hurting like hell. 

Salli Elbow Table

For outdoor types, there's even a 'Salli Hunter' with an umbrella attached!

I was also rather taken by a device to help those without use of their hands or arms to feed themselves.  The Bestic is a robotic arm that sits next to your plate and can be controlled by a variety of switches or other interfaces - I imagine using a smartphone wouldn't be out of the question - to get the food from the plate to a person's mouth.  Unlike heavy and cumbersome prosthetic arms, this device leaves the user entirely free to move around. 

I wasn't surprised when Björn informed me that the Ex-center had helped the company - also called Bestic - with testing its prototypes. 

Those attending EDRIC's members' meeting in Malmö this September will have a chance to see one in operation.  But for everyone else, hopefully the video which I shot on my smartphone will suffice. 

This is just the beginning for EDRIC and DysNet: we have a number of events to attend this year and each one will throw up new ideas and new connections to be followed up.  It's an exciting time for this organisation - and I'm very proud to be a part of it.

Tags: dysmelia accessibility living aids COTEC Article


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