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Occupational Therapy Students Build Cool Invention for Chef With Cerebral Palsy

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Ethan has always loved everything having to do with food. The 12-year-old loves cooking and watching cooking shows. He dreams of one day becoming a chef.

Ethan also has cerebral palsy, which can make it difficult for him to move around the kitchen. So when Ethan’s neighbor, an occupational therapist, asked if he could use Ethan as one of his class’s subjects for a project, the Ethan’s family jumped at the opportunity. The class wanted to design something that would help Ethan in everyday life.

“We knew right away we wanted something that would help him in the kitchen,” Karla Holley, Ethan’s mom, wrote in a blog post about the project.

Ethan and his family met Hannah and Brittany, two occupational therapy students from the Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences near their home in Virginia, who would be working on Ethan’s project. Ethan and his parents worked with the students to brainstorm a design that could help Ethan with his cooking projects. Together, they came up with an idea for a multi-function cart, similar to the utility carts sold at IKEA.

Before the students got to work building, Ethan and his mom determined some requirements: the cart had to be easy to maneuver around the house, and Ethan wanted to be able to use it in his room as well as in the kitchen. They also wanted it to have ample storage room and include a surge protector so Ethan could plug in kitchen gadgets or charge his electronic devices.

Most of the construction took place at the occupational therapy school, but Ethan helped with some of the building from home.


Ethan2 copy

The finished product includes plenty of storage space, a surge protector and a baking sheet where Ethan can store dishes and leave hot plates to cool down. The wheeled cart is also flat on one side, so he can pull it up to his bed or a counter and use it as a desk.


Final copy
Ethan with the occupational therapy students presenting their final product

“Ethan is so proud of his new cart and will get so much use out of it,” Holley wrote in her blog post. “Let’s get to cookin’!”


To read Holley’s original blog post about Ethan’s cart, head here.

Photos from Karla Holley’s blog Small Town Rambler.

Originally published: August 25, 2015
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