Monday, 15 September 2014

Lego play is a serious business!

When? Tuesday 9th September, 2014

What? TaCT researchers Dr Jack Parker and Lauren Powell and a designer, Dr Matt Dexter, ran a workshop with paediatric physiotherapists to understand how the SMART Shoe might be used to empower children and young people and their parents to self-manage rehabilitation after receiving Botox Therapy. 

Where? Ryegate Children’s centre.

To try and develop a research project in this area, we used Lego Serious Play to create storyboards to try and understand current practice, and imagine how the SMART shoes might enable effective self-management for the children.

This method was chosen because the most effective storyboards are visual. Everyone can draw, but it takes bravery to put pen to paper in front of your peers, and doubly so for people you don’t know - especially if drawing in front of someone who does it professionally. Therefore to maintain the visual storyboards and avoid drawing, we used Lego.
Benefits of Lego include:
  • The ‘rules’ are clear- blocks attach and release in a manner we are all familiar with
  • The pieces are predetermined
  • Lego allows for collaboration – pieces fit together on a common, modular basis enabling teamwork.
  • Meaning is constructed at the same time as the model itself – the workshop isn’t a building competition, rather even the most ‘random’ assortment of blocks is assigned a meaning by the participant… it is often the job of the facilitator to help decode and reach a shared understanding of the models to enable critical reflection.
  • It’s fun!
The workshop was split into two halves; 1) creating a Lego storyboard representing the service now and 2) a Lego storyboard creation of how the SMART shoes might bring added clinical value and also facilitate effective self-management:

The workshop participants began using Lego mini figures on their own, augmented with Post-It speech bubbles. This developed into more complex models, using props to give context, and Post-It notes for clinical information relevant to the scene.

As the workshop progressed, the scenes became more complex, delivering much richer context for the clinical scenario. For instance, the image above (right) shows the shoes in action – gathering clinically-relevant data in a scenario currently unobservable and unobtainable.

The clinical scenario is co-owned by the workshop participants as all had a hand in building the storyboard. There was no need for the facilitator to ‘translate’, and the resulting ‘Lego storyboard’ is easy to digest and understand.

This workshop highlights the value that design can bring to health research. This method of visual storyboarding is fast, and produces high-quality outputs that can be useful beyond the workshop- for patient information leaflets, bids, etc.

The workshop outputs form the basis for further funding applications to continue an investigation. 

Written by Dr Matt Dexter

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