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Assistive Technology House

woman in wheelchair looking at raised bed garden

October 2011


The Occupational Therapy Assistive Technology (AT) House was dedicated Saturday, Oct. 8. "Jim's Place" showcases and features adaptations for persons with disabilities, and will be used to teach students, inform practicing OTs, and serve the Quad Cities community.

The house is called "Jim's Place" in honor of the late James O'Rourke. Jim became quadriplegic after suffering an injury in 1963 but embraced a motto of "Never, never, never give up!" He helped create O'Rourke Brothers Distributing (now O'Rourke Sales Co.), and served as chairman of the board. His family donated the money for what they felt was a very fitting tribute to their brother.

In addition, a donation from the Hubbell-Waterman Foundation also helped make "Jim's Place" a reality.

New Media Story: 'St. Ambrose's AT House showcases high-tech help' (Quad-City Times)

News Channel 4 Story: 'Jim's place, a new home for folks with disabilities'
The Dispatch/Argus: 'Technology opened world of independence for woman with MS'
Watch an SAUtv video from the dedication.

Through assistive technology, OT Clinical Assistant Professor Jon Turnquist and occupational therapy students have quietly helped thousands of local, regional and international people with disabilities, to live lives of meaning and independence. The AT lab has been the Quad Cities' "secret jewel," and now this community treasure has a (physical) home.

Some Examples of Assistive Technology:

  • A little boy refused to use an arm that was damaged. The assistive technology lab produced an RC vehicle that required two hands to make it go.
  • A local woman with special needs suffered from violent and potentially fatal seizures that kept her mother up all night. Turnquist and a student invented a seismic apparatus for the woman's bed that would turn on the lights in the mother's room as an alert.
  • Year after year, children with disabilities in Peoria, Kewanee and local hospitals and programs-as well as in Brazil and Ecuador-receive "Dancing Elmos" and other adapted toys.
  • OT faculty and students regularly win national awards for their inventions.
  • Turnquist works with veterans, both locally and nationally.

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