The Vinyl Furniture Adapted social project continues to render fruits. Beginning in 2010, senior citizens will be able to take advantage of the benefits of this project, which was until that time offered only to children with neurological disorders. “We are very satisfied in soon being able to offer the furniture to adults. In this manner, we will expand the field in which this equipment can be applied to another percentage of the population, one that does have the means to acquire the equipment available on the market today, which have a high cost and are often times imported,” says Alfredo Baptista of the Catarinense Teaching Association (ACE), which supervises and is responsible for the Adapted Furniture laboratory in the state of Santa Catarina. “It is a more affordable solution that perfectly meets the needs of the low income population. The equipment performs the same functions as the equipment already available on the market, but at a much more attractive cost/benefit.”

The laboratory was inaugurated in March of this year by ACE, entity supporting the Guilherme Guimbala College of Joinville (state of Santa Catarina), to educate students of the Occupational Therapy Course. Around 28 children with neuro-motor disorders have already been helped since its creation.

The first class of the Occupational Therapy course, which has approximately 30 students, will graduate in December. The students begin having more contact with the vinyl beginning in the second year, when they learn to build the equipment. During the third year, the students begin to develop the practical part of the course, interviewing the families of children with disabilities. And, finally, during the fourth year, there is an evaluation, home visit, build and re-evaluation so that the vinyl-adapted furniture can be made in the manner which best fits the needs of each patient. Two companies, Tigre and Amanco, collaborate by donating vinyl pipes and connections.

The vinyl-adapted furniture most widely used for aiding personal hygiene is the inclined chair and the motoca (shower seat), both used during bathing. The preparation of these items is minutely studied through technical visits to the homes of the children who will use them. “Besides making physical measurements of the patients who will use the equipment, the environment in which they live is also completely measured, which allows building of furniture which meets the real needs of each user. We make three visits in order to conclude the work and check if the equipment is fulfilling its function as planned,” explains Baptista.

How It All Began

In 2006, occupational therapist, Grace Gasparini, began work in Campo Grande (state of Mato Grosso do Sul) with equipment destined for the treatment of neurological disorders and decided to conduct some tests with vinyl – tubes, connections, linings, panels – as a base for making the equipment. The Dom Bosco Catholic University (UCDB) of Campo Grande supported the project and made a space available at the clinic-school in order to expand the research on furniture with vinyl throughout Brazil. Instituto do PVC encouraged the project through the donation of the necessary vinyl materials.

Later on, the project reached Joinville, through the dissemination and promotion of Gasparini. “ACE became aware of the project, embraced the cause and, in March, inaugurated the first laboratory for vinyl adapted furniture in the country,” told Baptista. The success of this project is reflected in the invitations that Baptista and his team receive for seminars promoting the use of vinyl as a practical and high-productivity product, besides one that is easy to use.

For the executive director of the Instituto do PVC, Miguel Bahiense Neto, the project coincides with the social-environmental role of the vinyl production chain. “Vinyl, besides being a 100% recyclable and sustainable plastic, is also useful for various applications due to its versatility and cost/benefit,” added the executive.