OT student competes in annual Maddak Awards program

Erin Webster-Flynn and Dr. Debra Lindstrom

WMU occupational therapy student, Erin Webster-Flynn, competed in the 42nd annual Maddak Awards at the 2016 AOTA Conference, held in Chicago last April.

The Maddak Awards Program, held in conjunction with the AOTA Annual Conference & Expo, invites OT professionals and students to submit products they have invented or adapted to assist people with disabilities or recovering from illnesses and injuries.  Entries are judged by a panel of volunteer OT professionals and cash prizes are awarded.

Erin submitted a device that she developed as part of the Therapeutic Use of Technology class. Her device, the Foot Buddy, positions the foot to make it easier for patients to cut their own toenails. And while she didn't win in the competition, she still found the experience to be very valuable.

"I received more than I bargained for," said Erin. "Not only was I able to showcase my invention, The Foot Buddy, but I also had the opportunity to network with and learn from other students and seasoned occupational therapists."

The Foot Buddy

Dr. Debra Lindstrom, Erin's instructor in the technology class at WMU, was also pleased with Erin's experience. "Erin is the first WMU student that I know of who has ever entered a device into the contest. OT practitioners are always inventing and adapting to make things better for their clients. Erin's work here is an excellent example of that sort of innovative thinking."

At the competition, Erin was able to interact with contest judges and conference goers. Their questions and feedback allowed her to think critically about her invention.

"This whole experience was very informative, inspiring and encouraging," Erin said. "I am excited about the opportunities that await me in this profession. I look forward to creating products to improve quality of life and allow individuals to live their lives to the fullest!"