A Modular System for Safer In-Home Mobility
We want to increase the safety of assisted walking and rehabilitative exercise in the home when patients are discharged from hospitals before they are able to walk independently. Other aids such as walkers are helpful but do not work on stairs or cramped washrooms. Conventional grab bars and handrails would solve the problem, but most are unwilling to permanently install them particularly when the need is temporary. Instead, most rely on the help of a caregiver or lean on the furniture to help them get around increasing the risk of a fall from the lack of sufficient hand-holds. This also places the caregiver at risk of back injury in the event that the unsteady care recipient does fall and the caregiver attempts to catch him or her.
To promote safer, more frequent and more independent walking/movement for people with mobility or balance impairments by developing a low-cost, modular system of pressure-fit vertical grab poles and clip-on horizontal handrails. This system can be easily installed in areas where the user needs support, and can be removed when it is no longer needed. This can provide stable and graspable support for walking and in-home exercise. The pressure-fit installation is easy and does not permanently modify the home.
We have designed the system in collaboration with potential users, caregivers, therapists, manufacturers and distributors to understand the need for mobility and exercise support. We have developed prototypes of the pressure-fit poles and clip-on handrails in collaboration with a manufacturing partner, and have tested these prototypes for usability and effectiveness. We have also run testing to estimate the best positioning and dimensions for safety poles and handrails. We have now begun installing the MoveEasy Mobility Kit into homes of users to better understand how it meets our objectives. Feedback from users, caregivers and therapists will guide the design of additional components to improve usability and broaden the range of exercises that users can do with the product.