The Portal of Geriatrics Online Education

Choosing the appropriate assistive device: A card sorting activity

Choosing the appropriate assistive device: A card sorting activity

University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine
Rose van Zuilen, FACN, Osvaldo Rodriguez, FACN, Miguel Paniagua, FACN, Michael Mintzer, FACN
Donald W. Reynolds Foundation
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Ok Peer reviewed Peer reviewed

This 30-40 minute instructional activity is designed for small groups of medical trainees (6-8) to apply basic information learned about assistive devices. Although this session is intended for learners who have received some preliminary instruction on assistive devices, it can be modified readily to be the primary instructional modality for learners who have had little previous exposure. This interactive teaching activity uses a card sorting format in which participants are given a set of cards, each containing a different patient scenario, and are asked to match each card with one of seven assistive devices displayed on a table. Once the matches are complete, participants discuss the rationale for their matches and with input from the group members, make needed changes. The facilitator encourages further group discussion to clarify any misconceptions or mismatches. Key points about the use of assistive devices and common mistakes in their use are reinforced.

Educational objectives: 
  1. To select the appropriate assistive device and explain the reason for the selection.
  2. To describe the common problems in the use of assistive devices.
Additional information/Special implementation requirements or guidelines: 

The details for implementation are described in the session guide. Actual session materials are included in the appendices. We have conducted this session with second year medical students. At the time of the session, one of our fourth-year students rotating through the nursing home had a background in physical therapy. He volunteered to facilitate some of the sessions and he received very positive feedback from the students. We have found that with a detailed facilitator's guide, advanced medical students and members from other disciplines can successfully conduct this and some of our other teaching sessions. It is helpful if facilitators have a background in working with older adults, as this allows them to draw on their own experience during the group discussions.

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Suggested Citation:
Rose van Zuilen, Osvaldo Rodriguez, Dr. Miguel Paniagua and Michael Mintzer. Choosing the appropriate assistive device: A card sorting activity. POGOe - Portal of Geriatrics Online Education; 2009 Available from:


Submitted by eperrin on

I adapted for noon conference presentation and received great feedback from family medicine residents. It was interactive and everyone (faculty, staff, residents, medical students) participated. It has been templated into the regular academic conference schedule.

Submitted by Luis manuel Cornejo on

Veru usefull for my residents and medicine students. Geriatrics Rehabilitation Medicine.
Luis M. Cornejo MD., AGSF
University of Panama, Republic of Panama.