2.009 + Assistive Technology

Coincidentally the work that I am doing in 2.009 is around assistive technology as well. We are trying to design a better set of crutches for users to use, especially for going up and down stairs. We interviewed a variety of different users about their experiences for going up and down the stairs in order to get a better feel. While there is an official way, as shown here, http://www.upmc.com/patients-visitors/education/rehab/Pages/stair-climbing-with-crutches.aspx. Users don’t use it that way because 1. they aren’t taught that when they get the crutches, 2. it is not that much better than the normal way.

We found out from speaking with users and actually using the crutches ourselves some issues about using crutches to go up and down. We learned that you tend to lean forward/in the direction of where you are going when you go up and down to the stairs.  This shifts your center of mass forwards and creates instability, increasing the likelihood you’ll fall. We took these results to the drawing boards and created a set of designs that added an other contact to the crutches. An extra horizontal limp that expands perpendicularly from the crutches allow the users. We also took inspiration from para-olympic runner prosthesis that absorbs force into another one of the designs.

The results were promising, we took the design and ask users to use it, and they felt a lot more safe using our prototype for going down the stairs than normal crutches. There was not any discernible differences for going up the stairs.  Currently, we only have a prototype and not a full fledge product. We hope to do more user testing as we move forward. I’ve been able to mix some of the stuff I learned in PPAT into 2.009 as well, which is great.


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