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Periscope for Dental Assistant with Short Stature

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Sara was enrolled in the Dental Assistant program at the local community college. Sara is a very bright young lady, but she encounters many physical barriers because of her short stature. One of the responsibilities of a dental assistant is to take X-rays. In order to take quality X-rays, the assistant needs to look through a window into the X-ray room to ensure that the patient remains still during the exposure. Otherwise an unacceptable picture will be developed and valuable office time is lost.


Woman using periscope to see through window into X-ray room.
Woman using periscope to see through window into X-ray room.

Sara carries a single step-stool around with her, and this gives her access to the sinks, cabinets, and other areas. However, the window into the X-ray room was too high for Sara even when standing on her stool. For safety reasons and because of limited space, it was decided not to use a multiple step stool. Instead, a simple periscope with a 12" vertical gain was constructed. A pin was installed in the top of the window frame, and Sara could hang the scope on the pin for hands-free viewing. Sarah completed the program with excellent grades.

Cost Analysis

Except for the purchase of two 4" square mirrors for one dollar each, the scope was fashioned entirely from scrap materials and items typically found in the workshop. These included pieces of paneling for the sides, heavy cardboard stock for the top and bottom, some glue and small screws, and a piece of corner molding that serves as a handle. The interior was sprayed with flat black paint to reduce reflections. Construction time was most of a weekend.


Michael Cifaldi, PE

NC Vocational Rehabilitation Services