OT Students’ Invention Moves Ahead in Statewide Competition

Recent graduate Amanda Fortuna is shown here building a prototype of a battery-powered reacher. The invention was selected as a semi-finalist in a statewide competition.

An invention of Dominican College Occupational Therapy (OT) students has been chosen as one of 25 projects to move ahead in a New York State Department of Health (DOH) competition.   The DOH Aging Innovation Challenge encourages New York students to develop innovations to assist aging New Yorkers and their caregivers in completing activities of daily living.

Recent OT graduate Amanda Fortuna took the lead in submitting the idea for a battery-powered reacher, which was conceived with some of her classmates during an Advanced Practice OT course.  “Typically in field work or clinical scenarios that we’ve been in, we’ve seen that people are given reachers, but they don’t have the grip strength to maintain a grasp to pick up an item,” she said.

In order to become a semi-finalist, Fortuna had to submit a written proposal. For the next phase of the competition, Fortuna and former classmate Samantha Kromer are developing a prototype.  They must submit a video demonstrating the use of the battery-powered reacher for bathing, dressing, and meal preparation by November 1.  Five finalists will be awarded $5,000 and the developers of the top innovation will be awarded $25,000.