Examples of Adaptive-Design Projects from E&S Program and Prof. Merryweather:
Paraglider for Persons with Disabilities: This project was accomplished in conjunction with the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (USHGPA), and AblePilot, a non-profit organization, dedicated to making paragliding available as a recreational and therapeutic activity for persons with disabilities, specifically those with spinal cord injuries. This device (Phoenix I) was developed to allow persons with disabilities to be take aloft as passengers and to also allow persons with disabilities to be trained and qualified to use the device as solo pilots. It has been flown several times by qualified paraglider pilots and also flown in a tandem format with a disabled person as the passenger. It consists of a carriage with cushions, shock absorption, and brakes.
Arm Typing Support: This device was developed to minimize erratic movements for an office worker with CP (Cerebral Palsy). It is designed with three dampers to dampen arm movement but still allow the user to move toward and contact the keyboard. It was successful but is now awaiting further development using a closed-loop system to dampen movements as a function of acceleration.
Off Road Walker: This device was developed at the request of an outdoor-oriented Utah family who enjoyed hiking and camping. Their son had CP but had difficulty moving over rough terrain in his walker. The developed device incorporates pneumatic tires and unique “rotary” suspension on the large wheels to allow travel in rough areas. It was successful and continues to be used by the family.
Off Road Wheelchair: This device was developed at the request of an outdoor-oriented Utah family who enjoyed hiking and camping. Their son had CP and used a wheelchair propelled by an attendant. The developed device incorporates shock absorbers on both wheels to reduce impact loading to the user. It was successful and continues to be used by the family. It is being further developed to incorporate an on-demand battery power to facilitate uphill movement.
Exoskeleton: The exoskeleton was designed and fabricated to reduce the force and the back muscles–and resulting compressive load on the low back–for persons with weakened back muscles or persons in the process of rehabilitation from a back injury. It uses torsion springs to generate the moment to support the upper body in different postures. One similar device was developed that uses a flexible fiberglass strip to help support the upper body. This device is being considered for patenting by the University of Utah (UU) Technology Commercialization Office.
Foot/Basketball Propelled Wheelchair: The foot/basketball propelled wheelchair allows the user to move the wheelchair forward using knee extension. In general, wheelchair users prefer to user their quadriceps muscles for propulsion, but this results in a backward movement. This device allows the quadriceps to be used but propels the wheelchair forward by rotating the ball secured in the fixture in front of the wheelchair. Three other wheelchairs were designed that allow knee extension–two using a slide and one using a four-bar linkage. Tests in a local extended-care facility indicate that that the “foot/basketball propelled wheelchair” was preferred over the other designs.
Hand Propelled Wheelchair: The hand-propelled wheelchair allows the user to move the wheelchair forward by rotating the wrist (causing the calipers to grip the disc attached to the wheel) and pushing the arms forward. This allows easy forward and rearward movement and proportional braking. This device is being considered for patenting by the UU Technology Commercialization Office.
Hybrid Powered Elevator: This elevator was designed and fabricated at the request of “Assist” a local non-profit group focused on accessibility issues for persons with disabilities on behalf of a similar organization in New Orleans. The request was to develop an elevator that could be used to move users of wheelchairs from ground to an elevated residence (4 to 8 feet). It is designed to allow the use of an 18-volt battery powered drill or a hand-crank. Additional work is underway to review and incorporate codes and safety regulations and allow the use of solar power to recharge the battery-powered drill.
Lift Seat Wheelchair: This wheelchair uses a coil spring that is stretched when the user sits down to store energy. This energy is returned to the user and facilitates movement to a standing position. The coil spring is in parallel with a damper to allow movement speed and velocity to be independently controlled. The system is also designed so that the brake is applied when the seat is released upon rising, preventing the wheelchair from sliding backward from under the user. This device has been patented and was licensed to a private firm, but has not yet been successfully marketed.
Tracked Wheelchair Carriage: The tracked wheelchair carriage is a carriage onto which a standard wheelchair can by secured. It allows the user to move his/her personal wheelchair over snow or rough terrain through the use of hand cranks.
Step Canes: Several versions of the step-canes have been developed. All incorporate an integrated fold-out step to allow users to traverse steps with 8-inch rise but uses only a four-inch elevation of their foot.
Trike for kids with Cerebral Palsy: This was done in conjunction with Dr. Judy Gooch and Primary Children’s Hospital. I allows kids to propel themselves using a walking type motion. It was shown to improve the gait of these children. The parents also reported that the kids self-esteem was enhanced by their ability to play on the sidewalk with the other kids.