On The air
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Barb Heilman, MOT, OTR/L, is a registered and licensed occupational therapist with experience in physical dysfunction and upper-extremity rehab and hand therapy. She earned an MOT degree from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan and then began her career in general physical disabilities at the Mayo Clinic for in Rochester, Minnesota, where she worked for seven years. Moving into the specialty practice area of spinal cord injuries during that time, Barb says that she really started to appreciate the creative aspect of occupational therapy and how small adaptations can help people continue to do the things that were important to them before their injuries. She then completed a training program in the field of hand rehab at Mayo Clinic, and hand therapy became her area of clinical focus.
Barb moved to Houston, Texas, and started a hand and upper extremity clinic for a group of orthopedic surgeons. After having two children, she worked part-time hand therapy and also went on several medical mission trip to Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala, with a group of surgeons from Houston. After the birth of her first grandchild, Barb offered to babysit one day a week and because of thumb arthritis was unable to open the baby car seat buckle. Because she had splint material in my garage, she went to work devising a prototype for a tool to help her open the car seat buckle. This is how UnbuckleMe, a product marketed in partnership with her daughter Becca, was born.
Becca Davidson is the Co-Founder and Co-Inventor of UnbuckleMe. Barb grew up in Houston and after graduating from Vanderbilt University moved to New York City, where she worked in Financial Services and Consulting and earned an MBA from New York University Stern School of Business. After 8 years in NYC, Becca and her husband moved back to Houston to be closer to family. She now has two daughters, 2 years and 4 months old. She works full-time as a consultant for IBM, while also working on UnbuckleMe on evenings and weekends with her mom. Becca says that she looks forward to continuing to grow their company company and hopes to be able to work on UnbuckleMe full-time in the near future.
Resources and recommendations from this episode:
The host of the On The Air podcast, I have practiced as an occupational therapist for over 25 years and am an OT educator specializing in ed tech and instructional design.