DIY ADL Dressing Boards

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As a final project for my Level IIB fieldwork experience in an outpatient hand therapy setting, I created a set of 8 ADL dressing boards to help patients work on their fine motor coordination and dexterity in a way that translates to typical day-to-day life.

Before beginning my project, I searched the internet for suggestions as to what materials to use, or how to most effectively construct the boards, and found that the current resources online are very limited. Oftentimes, therapists purchase ready made dressing boards for ease.

The intention of this post is to show you how to make your own ADL dressing boards while offering suggestions as to how to make them as functional and aesthetically pleasing as possible!

Supplies:

  • 8 miniature cork boards (you can get these at the Dollar Tree for $1/apiece)
  • Scissors
  • Staple gun
  • Staples (I would use the length appropriate for upholstering furniture)
  • Several rivets for further reinforcement
  • ‘Poker’ screwdriver
  • Clothing: 1- shirt with a snap enclosure, 1- shirt with small buttons, 1- shirt with large buttons, 1- shirt with tie up front, 1- shirt with zipper enclosure, 1- pr of jeans with button and zipper, 1- pr of overalls, 1- bra, 1- belt with buckle enclosure and 1- woven fabric belt with metal loop enclosure (All found at a local Salvation Army)
  1. To begin, you will want to cut all shirts down to size, leaving several extra inches of cloth beyond the edges of the cork boards to use for reinforcement on the backs of the boards.
  2. Clothing with thinner fabric can be reinforced with just the use of a staple gun reinforcing every few centimeters on the back of the cork board. For thicker materials like jeans or overalls, using a poker screwdriver to drive a hole through both the clothing and the board, then reinforcing with rivets can be handy.

3. The final and maybe toughest board I fabricated was one consisting of two belts and a bra clasp. This board is especially important and relevant as many female patients report troubles fastening their bras when they are experiencing the symptoms of chronic hand/wrist conditions or are status post surgery. The bra was easily reinforced with the staple gun, but the belts required use of rivets. Once cut down to size and fastened, I used a poker screwdriver to drive holes through the belts and boards. With the leather belt, extra efforts were required to pierce the leather and create a hole big enough for a rivet. Housing these three items on one board eliminated the need for two extra boards, which adds to ease of storage.

Lessons learned: Use velcro to reinforce whenever possible. The thought of using velcro had never occurred to me while I was making the boards, but upon discussion with a good friend and classmate, she told me that the ADL boards that she had created for her previous fieldwork site were reinforced with velcro. Using rivets would be the most successful in adhering the clothing to the boards for long term use, but installing the rivets took more strength, patience and even money, than I had anticipated. *Note that using the rivets for the belts on the boards would be best for reinforcement.

For a grand total of $46.78, I created these boards for use at my Level IIB site. Despite the efforts required to create the boards, I would recommend creating and then using boards like this as opposed to prefabricated ones made of vinyl or solid colored fabrics, as these are more realistic, and could, in turn, be more motivating for patients (especially adult patients) to use during therapy. The use of these boards is not limited to individuals experiencing troubles with fine motor coordination or dexterity as they are often used to work on sequencing and problem solving with individuals in outpatient neuro-rehabilitation settings in addition to being used in pediatric settings for school aged children. If you have any further questions about creating these boards, please don’t hesitate to send me an email at: amkerber1@gmail.com. Happy crafting!

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