Poster Session
Issue Date: August 2016
Published Online: August 01, 2016
Updated: January 01, 2021
The Translational Research and Development Advances of Fred Sammons’ Work as Revealed in 60 Years of Catalogs, Artifacts, and Interviews
Author Affiliations
  • University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
  • University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
  • Self, Kalamazoo, MI
Article Information
Assistive Technology / Evidence-Based Practice / Translational Research
Poster Session   |   August 01, 2016
The Translational Research and Development Advances of Fred Sammons’ Work as Revealed in 60 Years of Catalogs, Artifacts, and Interviews
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011520300.
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011520300.

Date Presented 4/8/2016

Fred Sammons’ research and clinical expertise resulted in one of the best-known assistive device companies. His outreach to consumers and academics brought standardization to self-care devices, improved access to treatment options, and advanced the occupational therapy profession.

Primary Author and Speaker: Roger Smith

Additional Author and Speaker: Caitlin Dobson, Fred Sammons

Contributing Author: Kathryn Koch

PURPOSE: This study identifies key factors directing Fred Sammons’ work, focusing on the research and development (R&D) process and answering questions about his business’s growth.
BACKGROUND: Fred Sammons is an occupational therapist, technology specialist, and businessperson. His historical archives are a rich source of data for discoveries relevant to occupational therapists across areas of practice and describe the depth of the occupational therapy profession. This case study research design describes Sammons as an early innovator who propelled the field by developing, testing, and distributing assistive technology devices. His creative business practices, many unique to the profession, built a major business serving the profession worldwide. The context of historical events shapes our understanding of the evolution of the Sammons’ business.
DESIGN: A case study design was used to focus on an individual who exhibits exemplary life and professional strategies, in line with historical research methodology (Gaillet, 2012; Isaacs, 2012).
PARTICIPANTS: Sammons volunteered primary sources detailing early life events dating from the early 1900s through the turn of the century. This included more than 10 hr of recorded interview sessions (Smith & Campenni, 2013–2016), catalogs spanning the course of his business from his first issue (Sammons, 1958), several hundred photographs, thousands of pages of professional records and personal correspondences, and early assistive devices he developed.
METHOD: Researchers obtained and analyzed 4.5 hr of formal video recorded interview, more than 6 hr of informal discussion, and extensive archival artifact cataloging and annotation for each of several hundred items.
ANALYSIS: We used qualitative methods to allow social context to fortify archival evidence, with interviews and their analysis forming key components of the research process; their use is optimal for the narrative and content analysis of the Sammons archives to incorporate both primary and secondary sources across a variety of media types, based on Isaacs’ (2012) protocols.
RESULTS: Historical context and personal experience explain why Sammons’ success has not been easily replicated by others. Data depicted a transformational process from discoveries in practice to R&D to implementation of interventions back into practice.
DISCUSSION: Sammons elevated assistive technology use in occupational therapy practice, became one of the most recognizable faces in the profession, contributed to the standardization and availability of self-care assistive technology devices, educated occupational therapists about technology interventions, and created early examples of translational science by innovating solutions from R&D into practice.
IMPACT STATEMENT: Analysis of Fred Sammons’ experience in research and product development, clinical practice, management of occupational therapy services, entrepreneurial endeavors, and the application of these experiences will contribute to a greater knowledge base within the field of occupational therapy.
Gaillet, L. L. (2012). (Per)forming archival research methodologies. College Composition and Communication, 64, 35–58.
Isaacs, A. N. (2014). An overview of qualitative research methodology for public health researchers. International Journal of Medicine and Public Health, 4, 318–323.
Sammons, F. (1958). Button King 1958–1959 Catalog.
Smith, R. O. (Producer), & Campenni, F. (Director). (2013–2016). Fred Sammons video archive project [Motion picture]. (Available from UW–Milwaukee, 3203 N. Downer Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53211)