|M.Sc Student||Noa Hilevitz-Yosef|
|Subject||Task Analysis and Design Concepts for Improved Crutches|
|Department||Department of Architecture and Town Planning||Supervisors||Professor Bitterman Noemi|
|Professor Laufer Yocheved|
Throughout history, humans have used walking aids for support to hold themselves upright when injured or during illnesses. Though there is a diverse range of walking aids in the market today, crutches still lag behind in both design and technology. Crutches have two main functions: Reducing weight from the injured leg and extending the supporting base to increase balance and stability.
The paper focuses on crutches users which are not adapted to the use of crutches and have to adjust quickly to their temporary disabilities.
The objectives of this study were to evaluate main problems encountered by temporary crutch users, to characterize and design improved crutches and to test them in controlled experiments.
The methods included a literature review of history and development of crutches and market research, an anonymous questionnaires distributed among past and present crutches users, characterization and concept modeling of improved crutches and finally testing the prototype in comparison to walking with regular forearm crutches. Two tests were conducted during the experiment: Two minute walk along a straight corridor with the crutches and ascending and descending 12 stairs while supported by a barrier on one side and one crutch on the other. During the experiment three main groups of parameters were examined: functional measures (walking speed, vertical acceleration and grip), physiological measures (GSR, EMG, and skin temperature) and subjective measures (satisfaction and preference questionnaire). The tests were performed twice by each subject in a random order: Once with regular forearm crutches and once with the prototype crutches (a hand supporting, shock absorbing cast mounted on the handle of regular forearm crutches).
The experiments results demonstrate significant differences between the two types of crutches in functional measures (walking speed and grip pressure were higher when walking with the prototype crutches) and in some physiological measures (GSR and EMG were significantly lower in walking and using the stairs with the prototype). No significant differences were found in subjective measures between experimental and control crutches.
The innovative interdisciplinary approach of this research, combining methods in design, ergonomics, physiology and medical science could be used as a model for testing new designs of home accessories and for development of equipment in the healthcare and Life Style field, using analysis of objective and subjective parameters as an integrated functional system.