Assistive Mobility Device
University of Cincinnati
In 2009, the College of Nursing held two brainstorming sessions with Live Well Collaborative. From these meetings, a list of 20+ possible opportunities was developed. Based on feasibility and ‘likelihood for success’, assistive mobility devices were selected as the subject for redesign in this studio project. Our experience in a variety of healthcare settings consistently found patient mobility devices to be a problem. Similarly, as patients are discharged to a long-term care facility, hospice, or home setting, many of the mobility challenges still remain.
Many affordable assistive mobility devices lack the ergonomics and functionality necessary to meet the needs of today’s users. Poor design can cause repetitive strain and injuries, which can eventually lead to longer–term disability over time. To better understand these challenges and develop solutions to improve assistive mobility devices, LWC gathered a group of students from design and nursing. Together these students explored new opportunities to assist an individual’s ability to remain mobile.
In order to empathize with those completing tasks with walkers and canes, students participated in various simulation experiences. These simulations were conducted to better understand the physical, psychological, emotional, social, and environmental aspects of relying on assistive devices. Resulting insights from the exercises, and guidance from consumers, hospital staff, and caregivers, served as a foundation for the conceptualization and development of unique product and service ideas.
The students came up with six over–arching design themes that included: mobility, accessibility, organization, durability, customization, and sanitary issues. These themes helped guide brainstorming and the development of various concepts. The final concepts were elegant, stigma-free, ergonomic mobility devices that adapt to the needs of the user without compromising functionality.