Bespoke Solutions Through Co-design Collaboration  

Author: The HabITec Team

Operating a power chair using a chin joystick controller can be tricky: people with a SCI reported that the joystick is slippery, causing difficulties to control the power chair.

Operating a power chair using chin joystick controller can be tricky: people with a SCI reported that the joystick is slippery, causing difficulties to control the power chair. Current solutions include adding foam to improve the interface; however, such solutions wear and tear quickly, are difficult to replace and clean, and thus are not ideal. To tackle this problem;

HabITec and ADaPT joined forces – bringing together designers, clinicians and people with a SCI – to create an individualised joystick design that is long lasting, easily replaced and cost effective.

In a student-led project, the team gathered information from power chair suppliers, people with a spinal cord injury who use chin–controlled power chairs, and clinicians working with people with SCI, to develop an adaption to the chin joystick control.  The result,  unveiled at the end of the term in November 2020, is a cover that can be placed over existing joystick controllers. This silicon cover provides extra grip for better control of the power chair and is easily washable for hygiene.

This collaborative pilot project provided an outline for the process of design to fabrication within a framework of co-design that includes clinicians and people with disabilities. It identified areas of strength and areas of improvement at the interface between designers and users throughout the creation process.

HabITec and ADaPT will continue to test this design pathway, including the regulatory requirements between the two industries, to best provide bespoke solutions for people with disabilities.

The Hopkins Centre would like to acknowledge Joanna Renault (Occupational Therapy Student University of Sunshine Coast), and Amelia Richards (Design Student, Griffith University) for their dedication and collaboration with this project.

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