WCU MSOT Student Wins First Place at Product Design Competition for Invention

Posted on 06/01/2016

Susie Haroutounian has always wanted to help people — she just didn't plan on inventing something to do it.

The West Coast University masters of science in occupational therapy student recently took first prize in the student category for her Motorized Bedside Table project at the 42nd annual Maddak Awards competition.

In Haroutounian’s project entry for the awards, she listed the benefits for patients:
  • Increases safety and independence
  • Allows client to perform duties - what they like doing without discomfort (reading, etc.)
  • Reduces burden of caregiver
  • Reduces helplessness (allows patient to feel more independent and do things on their own).

“It was such a crazy feeling, I didn’t even think I would win, I just wanted to present the idea!” she said. “It was so nice to be recognized by a prestigious award.” 

The motorized bedside table was part of her course in assisted technology where MSOT students are challenged with creating a device to assist a person with any diagnosis. 

“I had started thinking of my project way before the term started about what could really help my patients,” she said.

During one of her fieldwork rotations, Haroutounian shared that it was an encounter with a particular patient that really motivated her invention. 

“This patient would always need assistance getting something from her bedside table and I thought ‘Why is it that we have controls for the TV, call button or can move our bed yet we’re not able to move the bedside table which is used so often?’ I couldn’t believe it didn’t exist!”

After thoroughly researching the market and determining there was nothing else like it, Haroutounian set out to create a motorized bedside table. She also spoke with other hospital staff during her rotations and was excited by their feedback, and the support from her faculty, especially Professor [Diana] Gantman.

“There were so many times I wanted to give up on this project, it was so difficult, but I stuck with it and it turned out great,” she said. “I feel this is such an important product that could really benefit a lot of people.”

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