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Project 10: Adaptive Rocking Chair


The goal of our design project is to create a accessible rocking chair to fit the specific needs of a three year old girl with Retts. The nature of the girl’s condition requires a special chair that would give the girl the ability to exercise her gross motor skills while still supporting her head and neck. Other features of the chair will aid in restraint and provide the child with a comfortable place to eat and play.

Ben Crago, Terry Hines, Aidan Reichard, Nathan Bowling, Luke Warwick

Problem Statement

Claire has Rett Syndrome, because of this her mobility suffers. Claire needs an adaptive rocking chair so she can continue to use her muscles and fight the mobility loss.

Design Specifications

For this project we have a few specific needs that need to be met. Number one we need to design a chair that allows her to use her legs to rock herself. This is because the more that she uses her legs it will prolong the deterioration of her muscles. This means we need a chair with a platform that she can push off of or use the floor to push off of. Number two we need a comfortable head rest and seat. The head rest is important because her head could hit the frame while she is rocking. We will probably end up using foam padding and cloth in order to cushion her head so that she can rock and stay safe. Her mom said that when she rocks in her highchair, she will rock it across the living room. We want to make our chair have a strong and maybe heavy base in order to keep her rocking chair in one place. In addition to this we will most likely add an optional lap belt so that she will be securely in the chair.

Background Research

Rett syndrome is a genetic neurological disorder primarily in girls. This disorder causes severe loss of motor skills and impairements in areas such as speaking, walking, eating, breathing, etc. Because of this, we researched different methods in which we could help our rocking chair the best fit. We first started with researching basic designs of rocking chairs we could then modify to fit our needs. Then we started researching ways we could build our own rocking chair to best accomadate what what we needed. There are a several companies that make adative rocking chairs for kids, but these chairs tend to be extremely pricey and unaffordable for the families. We found some models of chairs that we thought we could base our chair off of and modify to fit our family’s needs.

Concept Design 1

Bean Design:

This design utilizes a bean shaped frame to ensure the rocking chair does not tip forward or back while rocking. The chair part of the design will have padding around the body and head to provide protection during bodily rocking. A removable tray will go across the lap to allow for snacks and other activities. A lap strap will be added to the chair to help keep Claire in the chair while rocking. A rubber layer will be added to the bottom to prevent from the whole chair moving around and to protect the surface the chair is on.

Concept Design 2

Shock Design:

This design is composed of stationary base, a pivot, and padded chair. The stationary base will allow for aggressive rocking without the chair moving around the house. The chair will sit on a pivot point that is attached to the base. There will be a shock attached to the back of the chair connecting to the base to allow damping of the rocking movement.

Concept Design 3

Adjustable Seat Angle Design:

This design uses the typical curved base of a rocking chair. There will be a removable tray across the lab area to used for other activities, snacks, and more. Arms rests will be go along the side of the chair for arm support and safety. There is a lap belt to ensure further safety while rocking. The seat will have a hinge at the bottom of the back support to allow the seat angle to adjusted. To adjust the seat angle, you will move the rear seat support closer to the chair for a steeper seat angle or further away from the seat for a lower seat angle.

Decision Matrix


2024 Spring