Appropriate Paper-Based Technology (APT)
Specialised furniture is important for children with cerebral palsy and using recycled paper and cardboard enables specialist furniture to be constructed at affordable cost.
In the countries where CPA has been running training, more therapists are learning the skills to help children with cerebral palsy (CP) and consequently more families are coming forward for help for their children with CP. Made-to-measure, locally adaptable chairs and standing frames are really necessary so that between therapy sessions the children can have the chance to sit and use their hands, or stand and develop everyday skills themselves. Therefore CPA is actively supporting the setting up of local workshops in Africa for making Assistive Technological Devices. CPA works to provide initial training in APT techniques and then follow-up courses with practical help in adapting equipment to the needs of individual children, patterns and batch production support.
A small number of people including Jean Westmacott (who is employed by CPA) have been helping with training but APT is a relatively new technique so more experienced trainers are needed. It takes a lot of time to develop the skills needed for adapting the designs for children with differing needs and to practise the production techniques, so that people in Africa can continue to make the items locally without high material costs. Also it has become more and more apparent in these countries that small groups and even large organizations helping disabled children are always in need of funds. By making additional items for sale using cardboard, they can alleviate the daily costs in a sustainable manner. The biggest difficulty is that they do not have the capacity to spend the large amounts of time needed for researching saleable designs or on speeding up the production. Therefore the Paper Furniture Social Enterprise wants to help by trying out new designs here in the UK.
The construction of APT furniture enables adjustment of the support provided before completion. In this image, the comfort and support for this child is being checked before the chair is finished and painted.