iCreATe for Paralysis: Dr. Therese Willkomm of the UNH Institute on Disability receives $75,000 High Impact Innovation Quality of Life Grant

DURHAM, N.H. - The Institute on Disability (IOD) at the University of New Hampshire has received a $75,000 High Impact Innovation Quality of Life Grant from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation for the “iCreATe for Paralysis” program through the Assistive Technology in New Hampshire (ATinNH) project.

“I am so excited for our work on this project using the momentum from the current ‘Maker’s Movement,’” shares Dr. Therese Willkomm, Director of ATinNH. “I’m excited to begin this project as we empower New Hampshire residents with the tools, materials, and knowledge to create solutions in minutes for individuals who experience paralyzing conditions. As Benjamin Franklin says, ‘Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.’”

During the grant, ATinNH will conduct 14 Assistive Technology “Makers” workshops throughout NH in which participants will be fabricating over 1000 assistive technology solutions for children and adults who experience paralysis. They’ll also be recruiting people to learn to be makers of assistive technology.

Dr. Therese Willkomm and ATinNH is working with occupational therapy students and students in early childhood /special education at the University of New Hampshire to create and deliver solutions to individuals who experience paralysis. She is also planning to bring students from other UNH Departments including Communication Science and Disorders; Therapeutic Recreation; Nursing; Engineering; Special Education to teach them to fabricate solutions for individuals with disabilities. 

This grant involves a number of partners including ServiceLink, Granite State Independent Living, Northeast Passage, and Crotched Mountain - ATECH Services. In addition, Velcro USA and Zoo New England are collaborating on this grant by providing materials for fabricating solutions. 

Dr. Therese Willkomm is the Director of the New Hampshire Statewide Assistive Technology Program (ATinNH) with the Institute on Disability and a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy. She is also the coordinator of the Graduate Certificate in Assistive Technology Program and the coordinator of the Disability Studies Minor. She has been providing/managing assistive technology services for over 28 years in the areas of home, school, and worksite modifications for persons with disabilities. She is known nationally and internationally as “The MacGyver of Assistive Technology" and for her work in rural rehabilitation technology. Dr. Willkomm has presented nationally and internationally, holds UNH’s first patent for the AT Pad Stand, and has published two books on assistive technology solutions.

Assistive Technology in New Hampshire (ATinNH) is New Hampshire’ statewide assistive technology program. Led by the Institute on Disability, it provides training, education, and outreach programming as well as equipment demonstrations, loans, and refurbishing. You can learn more at www.ATinNH.org. If you’re interested in participating in in the workshops as a maker or participant, contact stacy.driscoll@unh.edu.