Students Making Adaptive Equipment

In early April my wife and I spoke to a class of therapeutic recreation majors at SUNY Cortland. Much of my talk can be seen in A Process for Making Assistive Technology on the Handihelp homepage. I stressed using common materials and keeping things simple. Dr. Lynn Anderson then assigned each student to create a piece of adaptive recreation equipment. Ideally for use with the participant they were already working with at the JM Murray Center. Recently, Dr. Anderson sent me a booklet of the inventions and I was amazed by the creativity, functionality and simplicity of their creations. I have received permission to share some of them with you.

Discussion with the class

CD Card Holder by Jack Rooney

Help individuals with lack of grip, arthritis, or carpal tunnel easily hold their hand of cards. Can be used for any individual lacking fine motor skills. Basic gross motor skills and minor grip required.

Materials: Two CDs, masking tape, playing cards

Construction: Tape the two CDs together toward the bottom using small pieces of masking tape, leaving an opening in the top where the cards will go.

Gardening Tweezers by Amanda Rutland

Planting for persons who have fine motor difficulties can be challenging, especially when it comes to grasping the seeds. The Gardening Tweezers have foam tips that grasp the seeds when closed by the person using them. It also has measurements on the outside to plant the seeds at the correct depth. The tweezers are big enough to hold with the whole hand, which makes it easier to use.

Materials: Two 12 inch gardening wooden slats, one 2 inch spring, hot glue/gorilla glue, permanent marker, ruler, foam sheet

Construction: To construct the gardening tweezers, place the spring 1/3 on the way up the two slats of wood from the bottom (pointed end) up. Hot glue the spring to both wooden slats. Hold together until the glue dries. Once the glue has dried take the tops of the wooden slats and glue them together at the ends to create a tweezer like look to the wooden slats. Hold together until the glue dries. Take the ruler and align it with the pointed end of the wooden slats and mark the 1 inch, 2 inch and 3 inch areas on the slat. Label these markings with the permanent marker. Lastly, hot glue a fitted piece of foam to the pointed ends of the wooden slats on the inside.

Ping Pong Paddle Extender by Emma Hebert

To help those who have the inability to grasp the paddle firmly on their own when trying to enjoy a good game of pong or pong ball juggling.

Materials: Ping Pong Paddle, duct tape, Velcro, wooden rod

Construction: Attach the rod to the paddle with duct tape, place Velcro on both ends of the wooden rod with duct tape. Extra Velcro can be added if more support is necessary. Recommend wearing sleeves, Velcro may irritate skin. Handihelp would like to point out the concept of this extender can be applied to a variety of other uses.


The work of these students provides tangible proof that creating adaptive equipment need not be as difficult as one might think. Kudos to Dr. Lynn Anderson and especially the students in SUNY Cortland’s REC 431/533: Therapeutic Recreation Process II Class.

For a look at all the projects see Adapted Equipment Ideas

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Paddle unit on hand

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