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Final Report

Final Report

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Published by kingfabio

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Published by: kingfabio on Mar 19, 2009
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03/29/2013

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Redesign of the Rollator’s Parking Brake System
Stephen Siu, Maria Wong, Aditya Shah, Heng Li, Alan Soong, Ray Cao
 
Abstract
 A large concern for the elderly is forgetting to engage the parking mechanism on the rollator before using it asa seat or for support. Interviews and research indicate that the elderly are prone to falling because of thedependence on memory to activate the rollator’s parking mechanism and also the inability of the current rollator to effectively park when the braking mechanism is engaged. The design project focuses on creating a rollator that will brake by default and thus will eliminate the need for users to rely on memory to activate the parking mechanism. The first iteration of the design is based on the concept of a pin-lock braking system that is activated by the top frame of the rollator. The second and final iteration of the design replaces the pin-lock with a chain-lock. Based on another round of customer feedback, the next generation of the rollator will replace the chain-lock with a ratchet gear lock.
1. Introduction
Home safety is an important aspect of life for the elderly, and the SYDE 361 design project aimed to address thecurrent challenges within this area. Research and interviews indicated that fall prevention is currently the most pressing issue amongst the elderly. It was found that falling while walking is the second leading cause (29%) of hospitalization in all ages and accounts for 62% of hospitalization among seniors in Canada [1].Within the current state of art, rollators, forearm crutches and canes were three solutions evaluated againstcost, feasibility and limitations. The group found that the rollator is the most frequently used assistive device for the elderly but is limited in serving mobility purposes due to its bulkiness and inflexible structure. Thus, the problem statement focused on improving the current design of the rollator to accommodate everyday mobilityrequirements around the home.A second round of interviews conducted with users of the rollator, elderly caregivers, and design specialistshelped to identify the problems with the current rollator. The large dimensions of most rollators was a major issueas it made movement difficult in confined areas such as bathrooms and closets. Although the rollator is easilyfoldable, users complained that it was difficult to store in the trunks of most cars and in places such as restaurants.The most significant concern was specifically related to the rollator's braking mechanism. The brakes requiredconsiderable physical effort, were not durable and were expensive to replace. Many customers complained thatthe braking system was not intuitive as applying the brakes on one wheel would only stop the corresponding side(as opposed to both sides) of the rollator, resulting in a dangerous pivot around one wheel. A large concern for theelderly was forgetting to engage the parking mechanism on the rollator before using the rollator as a seat or for support. Thus, there were several pressing issues with the current braking system in the rollator and the problemstatement was modified to address the parking mechanism of the rollator.1
 
2. Problem definition
Based upon user feedback and group discussion, the problem statement can be described as follows:The current rollator is unable to remain completely immobile while users attempt to sit down on it after activatingthe parking mechanism, leading to numerous falls amongst the elderly. In addition, the use of the parking featureis dependent on user memory but the user population is mainly elderly individuals with degrading memorycapabilities. The design should address the reliance on user memory to immobilize the rollator and improve thecurrent wheel locking mechanism, thus reducing the number of incidents related to falling due to unlocked andineffective brakes.
3. Customer needs & product requirements
Interviews were conducted with rollator users, elderly caregivers, and design specialists to help identify therequirements for an improved design of the rollator. The following table illustrates customer needs pertaining tothe parking brake mechanism of the rollator.
Table 1 - Interpreted customer needs.
Customer StatementsInterpreted Need
"Very maneuverable, only difficult to control if holding onto one handle"Able to brake with one hand"The wheels keep turning even after I lock it and even when the wheels are locked,the wheels slide on the surface of carpet."Able to stop movement whenrollator is parked"The brakes of the rollator break off very easily. They wear out and are expensive toreplace (approximately $40 each time). "Able to work effectively over life of rollator "The brake should have an automatic brake system that will apply the brakes ontothe rollator after it is not used after a certain amount of time."Able to brake with minimal appliedeffort
When translating customer needs into metrics, there was a concern with the few metrics available for therollator's braking and parking mechanism and thus suggested that this could potentially be an area overlooked bycurrent manufacturers. It is important to consider the dimensions of the rollator when designing the productspecifications for the parking system. However, when building the re-designed parking brake system, care should be taken so that the product does not weigh more than 60N and should ideally have a maximum width of 0.56mand maximum depth of 0.46m which is comparable to some of the smaller rollators available on the market. Thedimensions of the handle bar frame were determined through conventional rollator dimensions and ergonomicdata. Based on the handle bar dimensions and weight distribution, the spring constant on the chain-lock mechanism must range in between 0.290N-m and 11.1N-m.Following an ergonomic analysis of the pulling force, pushing force, elbow angle, and shoulder extension, itwas found that the frame should be built so that the it does not require a pulling strength of more than 96N per handle and and the required downward pushing strength should not be more than 64N per handle. Theseergonomic specifications are important and should be taken into consideration when designing the product.
4. Concept generation, selection and testing
As discussed earlier in the report, users of the rollator are forgetting to engage the parking mechanism on therollator before using the rollator as a seat or for support.To address these user needs, concepts were brainstormed that emulated different parking mechanisms on other devices such as bicycle brakes, airport luggage cart brakes, pin-lock mechanisms, seat activated brakes, motion2
 
sensor locks, button activated brakes, and spring-loaded casters. The advantages and disadvantages of the brainstormed ideas were then passed through a screening process, which resulted in three key ideas: default braking mode from an airport luggage cart, pin locks and the handle bars from current rollators.These three ideas were then analyzed formally through a selection chart with weighted criteria on ease of use,durability, strength requirements and safety. The selection process determined that the idea of a default brakingmechanism and pin-locking mechanism received the highest scores. Through this rigorous concept selection process, it was determined that the first iteration of the design should incorporate the default braking mechanismfeature found in airport luggage carts with the pin-locking mechanism used for parking. When not in use, therollator is in a default parking mode with the pin locked into the wheel as shown inFigure 1.
 
1
Figure 1-Parking lock engaged.
To deactivate the pin-lock, the user presses down on a horizontal handle bar and enables the rollator to moveas shown in the following figure.
cc
Figure 2-Parking lock disengaged.
When the user releases the bar, the rollator returns to its original parked state with the pin-lock in place asshown in the next figure.3

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