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Mapping the Clothing Taskscape: Apparel Needs in Rehabilitation Therapy Open Access


Other title
design process
functional design
user needs
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Tullio-Pow, Sandra R
Supervisor and department
Strickfaden, Megan (Human Ecology)
Examining committee member and department
Bissonnette, Anne (Human Ecology)
Devlieger, Patrick (Anthropology)
Ruppert-Stroescu, Mary (Human Sciences)
Ashdown, Susan (Human Ecology)
Yu, Xiaokun (Fashion Design & Engineering)
Department of Human Ecology

Date accepted
Graduation date
2016-06:Fall 2016
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Dressing is an activity taken for granted until a person’s balance and synchronized movements are impaired due to illness, injury, disease, or surgery. This study conceptualized and operationalized the clothing taskscape (CT)—selecting, shopping, dressing, toileting, eating, exercising, sleeping, laundering, and storing—to analyze apparel needs and ways people who have experienced a disabling event interact with clothing. The CT was designed to: map the use scenario and identify the relationship between personal ability and clothing environment; determine compensatory interventions in terms of clothing modifications that improve functional abilities; and distinguish how clothing and independence in dressing enhance well-being and self-image in rehabilitation therapy (RT). The study was framed by a 2-part research question: What factors along the CT impact functional limitations and self-image for people in hospital RT programs, and how can such criteria inform design to address this population’s needs? Ethnographically oriented methods were used to examine the clothing context and its meaning to people through field observation of RT sessions and patient routines with personal support workers (PSWs; n=46), and interviews with occupational therapists, physiotherapists, PSWs, and patients (n=34). Precedent analysis was used to source and evaluate clothing in the marketplace; specific garments were purchased and used as probes to invite dialogue during participant interviews and to gauge receptivity to garment innovations. Results reveal patients’ experience related to clothing, disability, and functioning as well as clothing’s social and psychological aspects. Design recommendations are made to mediate difficulties people have when dressing in relation to fabric choices, garment silhouettes and fasteners, circumference of garment openings, dual waistbands, pockets, loops, and visual clues to guide garment orientation and product development opportunities. Study results may impact fashion designers, specialized product developers, design educators, and rehabilitation therapists.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private, scholarly or scientific research. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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