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The Blythedale "Challenge"

Assistive technology project presented to Pratt Institute

On October 11, Blythedale Children’s Hospital welcomed dozens of the brightest minds, along with their mentors, from Pratt Institute’s School of Industrial Design. First year Master’s students, alongside professors Hyuk Jae Henry Yoo and Matthew Hoey, toured the Hospital and learned about Blythedale’s vision to become a center of excellence for assistive technology. The future innovators stopped by Therapy Village, the speech pathology and occupational therapy departments, the Mt. Pleasant-Blythedale School and the Hospital’s equipment clinic.

The visit culminated with a real world design challenge proposed by Blythedale to the Pratt students – create an Upper Extremity Support System (UESS)/laptray mounting system for standard wheelchair arms. The device must be able to click or lock in place, accessed from the front, easy to use, lightweight and retrofitted for existing wheelchairs. If possible, the laptray could also be stored on the side of the chair to prevent it from being placed on the floor, thereby causing infection control issues. 

Oded Shorer, founder of Milestone Studio, helped launch this new assistive technology design challenge partnership between Blythedale and Pratt. The new endeavor between the Hospital, Pratt and Oded Shorer is the next step in the growing field of assistive technology. By connecting multidisciplinary teams across various healthcare and design sectors, going from concept to product will have more of an impact. “We were honored to launch the assistive design challenge and for the joint effort and support from Blythedale,” said Shorer. 

This sentiment that was echoed by clinical leaders at the Hospital. “It’s exciting to be collaborating with the Pratt Industrial Design students,” said Julie Knitter, Director of Blythedale’s Occupational Therapy Department, after outlining the expectations. “We look forward to their ingenuity and design solutions.”

Fall semester students will be showcasing their final products for this collaboration on November 15th at Pratt Institute’s Brooklyn campus. Members of the Blythedale leadership team plan to attend to learn the results of the class assignment.

“It is clear to see that the future of assistive technology is in very good hands with the assembled students here today,” said Maureen Desimone, Blythedale’s Chief Administrative Officer and coordinator of the event. “We are confident that their efforts and insights will not only benefit patients here at Blythedale, but on a much larger scale, as well.”

Blythedale Children's Hospital

As New York’s only freestanding, specialty children’s hospital, Blythedale is dedicated to improving the health and quality of life of children with medical complexity, through superb multi-disciplinary patient care, teaching, research, and advocacy programs. Blythedale’s board-certified physicians, nurses, and other clinical staff (social workers, respiratory therapists, clinical pharmacists, Child Life specialists, etc.) and New York State’s largest hospital-based pediatric therapy department work together to provide intensive and innovative multi-disciplinary clinical and therapeutic care to help children achieve their medical and rehabilitative goals for independent living, and return to their communities. Blythedale is also the only Hospital in New York State with its own, on-site public school district.

For more information about Blythedale Children’s Hospital, visit