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Thread: I am a Medical Device Designer and I need your expertise!

  1. #1

    I am a Medical Device Designer and I need your expertise!

    Hey everyone,
    My name is Matthew Lynch,
    I am studying a masters in Medical Device Design in NCAD, Dublin Ireland.
    I am currently doing some developmental research for my project.
    Working with John Horrigan (Cara Mobility Design) to develop a wheelchair mobility arm.
    As a part of my masters I am required to develop 3 separate concepts with regards, to improving wheelchair users mobility. I have seen from the community care forums that this is a valuable source of information that could help me design the best product with your expertise I might be able to develop a product that is actually useful for wheelchair users that is well informed.
    I am looking at the broad spectrum right now during my research, and was wondering if i could pick your brains in relation to problem areas, such as unanswered/ unmet needs for wheel chair users.
    The current areas I am looking in would be:
    Personal hygiene
    Outdoor activities
    Everyday tasks

    In a sense a good way to think about what I'm asking is what pisses you off about being in a wheelchair, the day to day things the big, small problems you face every day.
    It's important for me to understand the users needs when creating new concepts.
    I'm aware that most people find wheelchairs quite freeing but what I want to know about is the parts where it gets in the way of your daily life !
    If you had any sort of insights in to problem areas or potential gripes ( unanswered/unmet mobility needs) in this area could you point me in the right direction, to where I could potentially narrow my focus.
    I would be really appreciative of any information you could give me,
    Thanks so much guys

  2. #2
    IMHO the biggest obstacle is not related to available wheelchair technology (which has gotten pretty good except for affordability), but rather to truly usable accessibility. That is, people who outfit accessibly designed spaces frequently thwart the accessibility. Examples include a retailer who blocks access to a door operator with a product display, 'accessible' public transportation (planes, buses, etc) in which the restroom cannot be reached, a hotel that places inaccessible beds (too high) in an otherwise accessible guest room, ad infinitum.

    And then (the scariest) there's the ubiquitous elevator scenario: "In case of Fire, Use the Stairs."

    My soap box: Prior to WWII, injuries and illnesses severe enough to put someone in a wheelchair were typically not survivable. With WWII, medical advances led to the survival of many more people using wheelchairs who, incidentally, require more ongoing medical care and assistive equipment than the AB (able bodied) population. Because many of these survivors have been valiant soldiers, societies desire to integrate them, finally (but slowly) recognizing that all wheelchair users are valuable members of society. Funding for good quality services and equipment remains a barrier.
    TiLite TR3
    Dual-Axle TR3 with RioMobility DragonFly
    I am a person with mild/moderate hexaparesis (impaired movement in 4 limbs, head, & torso) caused by RRMS w/TM C7&T7 incomplete.

    "I know you think you understand what you thought I said, but what I don't think you realize is that what you heard is not what I meant."

  3. #3
    This is a very hard question to answer because everything sucks about being in a wheelchair. I won't go into that so I'll offer some random suggestion......How about a scissor lift on a manual chair? I know some power chairs have them, but not a manual chair. So many things are out of reach when you left your grabber at home. I would love to be able to reach the ceiling to turn on/off the fan or light, I would love to be able to change a light bulb, or change an entire light fixture.

    How about a light weight portable lift for getting me off the ground and back into my chair?

    Find a way to get me a good cardio workout while not killing my shoulders!!!! I love a great workout, but not at the expense that I'll not be able to push myself around for the next few days. I don't care if that is with FES or some other TENS unit type thing.

    How about a cup holder that actually works on a manual chair w/o arm rests? And one that doesn't spill. Think gyro type like boaters have.

  4. #4
    An inflatable device with a self contained pump that will hold you stable and lift you off the floor to your chair. Then deflate and fit in a back pack.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Auckland, New Zealand
    I'd like a device that would cause physical pain (electric shock?) to anyone who grabbed the push handles without me first taking some action to permit it. ;-)

    Seriously, though, I'd like an easy to attach/detach articulated arm which could securely support serious weight, eg the weight of a Canon DSLR + 400mm f5.6 lens, and could be manipulated quickly and easily and without the use of fiddly knobs or anything requiring strong grip or fine finger control. Similar equipment does exist off-the-rack, but my camera store guy thought it would be a bit of a risk to expect it to cope with a seriously long and heavy lens. Ideally it would allow panning, which I can't achieve with a tripod.

    I'd like a lightweight folding reacher/grabber which could double as some other part of my chair (push handle or wheel lock lever extension) so that I actually carried it with me on a daily basis.

    I'd like an umbrella that would attach in a sensible way (without any heavy permanent attachments) so that it could keep me dry and not put anyone else at risk from its pointy bits.

  6. #6
    Thanks guys the feedback so far has been brilliant!
    If you know any of your friends that might be interested in weighing in on this, it would be great if you could send them this way !

  7. #7
    Two things that would greatly help me and other wheelers of manual wheelchairs, already mentioned above, would be 1) a reacher/grabber that is incorporated onboard the wheelchair. It might be somewhat like a telescoping cane that blind persons use, but enable the wheeler to grab objects from the floor, high shelves at the grocery store, etc. If you think of a Swiss Army Knife with all the helpful accessories, that's what I'm interested in. That is, a wheelchair that has not only a handy grabber, but also a small umbrella, cell phone dock, etc. all neatly stowed away.
    2) A device/mechanism to raise up while in the wheelchair when a simple grabber won't get what you need. That is, when you need both hands to hold, handle, something. For example a device that would maybe be located under the wheelchair cushion, to raise oneself up maybe 6 inches or so. It might also aid in transferring to those high motel beds!
    Many regards to you for working as a designer!

  8. #8
    I am still looking for a device that would make it possible for someone without finger function to independently administer an Enemeez (mini-enema).


  9. #9
    How about a version of this kid's walker (see photo)for adults with disabilities who still have some leg function, but not enough for ambulation?
    It would be great if it could have a flexible footprint, not-tippable, and height adjustable. Also allowing for seating cushion
    to prevent pressure sores. Good luck!

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Crashbang View Post
    How about a version of this kid's walker (see photo)for adults with disabilities who still have some leg function, but not enough for ambulation? It would be great if it could have a flexible footprint, not-tippable, and height adjustable. Also allowing for seating cushion
    to prevent pressure sores. Good luck!
    There are already a number of these on the market (just a few examples):


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