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Project 13: Larger Adaptive Walker

Abstract

The name of the child we are involved with is Miguel. Most days, Miguel crawls along the carpet flooring of his house, sometimes pulling himself up momentarily by relying on the support of a nearby table or couch. The therapist and family thought a walker would work great for Miguel, allowing him to start learning to take his first steps, gaining lower body strength, and developing good posture.

Cameron Johnson, Thomas Dupont, Nicolas Capelle, Jonathan Bryan, Ethan Mabry

Problem Statement

Currently three years old, Miguel shows delay in the development of his gross motor skills. With that in mind, our chief goals for this project are to provide Miguel with the support he needs to learn how to walk and explore the outdoors he loves so much. Working hand-in-hand with the family’s therapist Ms. Cruz alongside Miguel’s mother, our mission is to design, model, and assemble an adaptive walker suitable for Miguel.

Design Specifications

  • Development – supports and corrects posture as the child learns how to walk
  • Adjustability – the amount of support provided by the walker can be altered to accommodate each stage of development
  • Mobility – offers some degree of independent movement to interact with the environment/surroundings
  • Comfortability – useable for prolonged periods without causing discomfort
  • Reproducibility – the extent to which the components are commercially available or can be fabricated
  • Adaptability – traverses through both indoor and outdoor terrain
  • Dependability – supports the forces acting on the walker and provides a stable structure to lean against; remains balanced
  • Portability –  made lightweight and/or smartly designed for ease of transport; fits through doorways with clearance

Background Research

Since we had little to no prior experience designing walkers, we started by engaging in some basic research. We learned that most walkers offer features such as height adjustable legs and are sometimes made to be foldable. At this point, we started asking some necessary questions amongst ourselves in order at the crux of what we want from this project.

Question 1: Wheels or no wheels?

Walker vs. Rollator 
  • Walker – main frame supports the user by having stumps attached on the bottoms of four legs maintain contact with the ground while stationary and are lifted into the air when moving
    • Advantage(s)
      • simple and intuitive braking method
      • lightweight
    • Disadvantage(s)
      • requires user to briefly support his or her own body weight to walk
      • inflexible design
  • Rollator – variation of the standard walker design where main frame supports the user by having wheels attached on the bottoms of the legs
    • Advantage(s)
      • fairly mobile
      • variation in design
    • Disadvantage(s)
      • quality of brakes affect when and how the user can stop motion
      • generally more complicated design

Answer 1: Choosing a rollator, a rolling walker, was a relatively easy choice since the physical specifications of an ordinary walker are probably too much for Miguel.

 

Question 2: How many wheels?

2-Wheel vs. 3-Wheel vs. 4-Wheel Walkers

  • 2-Wheel – a rolling walker where the two front legs have wheels attached on the bottom while the back two legs have stumps
    • Advantage(s)
      • most intuitive braking method
      • stable design
      • lightweight
    • Disadvantage(s)
      • requires weight to be placed on front in order to move
      • inflexible design
  • 3-Wheel – a rolling walker designed to be used on three wheels
    • Advantage(s)
      • highly mobile
      • easier to navigate tight spaces
      • customizable (seats, backrest, etc.)
    • Disadvantage(s)
      • some concerns involving general stability and potential for tipping over
      • depends on brakes to fix moving
  • 4-Wheel – a rolling walker designed to be used on four wheels
    • Advantage(s)
      • stable design
      • Fairly mobile
      • customizable (seats, backrest, etc.)
    • Disadvantage(s)
    • depends on brakes to fix motion

Answer 2: After some careful deliberation, taking the mother, the therapist Ms. Cruz, and even Miguel’s opinions into account, we moved forward on the assumption that a 4-wheel walker would provide best satisfy everyone, offering a middle ground between the rigid design of a 2-wheel walker and the mobility of a 3-wheel walker.

 

Question 3: What should the general frame of our design resemble?

  • We developed three different solutions to answer this query. These ideas became the basis for our three concept designs.

Answer A: We referenced the traditional design of a Klip 4-wheel walker produced by Circle Specialty.

Answer B: We referenced the design of the 4 Wheel Rollator walker produced by Drive Medical.

Answer C: We referenced the outdoor design for the Klip 4-wheel walker produced by Circle Specialty.

 

 

Concept Design 1

The first concept design remains heavily based off of the standard Klip 4-wheel walker design. That being said, our concept design  intends to convert a Klip walker, which is typically designed to be pulled by hand grips on the side, into a push model. In order to realize this design, the front wheels must be switched out for back wheels and vice-versa. Typically, turnable wheels are positioned in the front of walker to allow for a greater degree of maneuverability. Along with that, there are foot activated wheel brakes on two of the front walker wheels that can be used to lock the walker in place. The most distinctive feature of the depiction of a seat strap or harness to support Miguel’s weight. The last major adjustment to original design was the addition of two handles protruding out of the back, reminiscent of the back part on a wheel chair.

Concept Design 2

The second concept design takes one of the standard variations on a lightweight walker design and strengthens the overall structure. By overhauling a preexisting compact walker design and adapting it to suit Miguel’s needs, there are several unique benefits to this design. One of the most notable differences between this design and the other ones is the presence of hand activated breaks attached to the rear handle grips. With these, breaking becomes  much more convenient. Another point of interest lies in the fact that the front of this design is significantly more open than the previous design. For this design, Miguel can be placed into the walker from the front. In addition to that, this design also has room to accommodate additional features to support Miguel such as a seat or backrest.

Concept Design 3

Similar to the first concept, the general frame of the design was greatly inspired by the Klip walker, again making many of the same changes as was done with the first concept design. However, the specific reference for this one was oriented towards outdoor use. For this design, we considered how the duality rigid back straps and a flexible seat may improve Miguel’s experience outside. The walker possesses foot brakes to lock the wheels in place. This time these brakes are positioned on the back wheels for ease of use. Moreover, the walker offers areas on the side and front bars for which Miguel can hold onto.

Decision Matrix

Semester

2024 Spring