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arthritic solutions by ds:ign

observational research

by david stevens

independent living

the memory of pain

e v o k e
positive emotions

Initial Research
Exploration of the kitchen environment helped to identify problems
associated with daily tasks carried out by a number of people of differing
ages and physical abilities.

Vicky Tremain
Vicky lives in a 6-person house
in Brighton, East Sussex, which
contains only one medium-sized
fridge-freezer, therefore it is often
extremely full.

Having recently bought some
frozen fish, Vicky was asked to
retrieve the packet from the

but bending for too long hurts my back and crouching can hurt my knees.” Vicky Tremain . When it wasn’t there I couldn’t bend to the bottom drawer.” “I don’t have any joint or muscle problems. so when I looked in the [third] draw I could bend pretty easily. it hurts my back and legs too much. but I don’t think I’m the only one!” “It would be great if you see everything in the freezer before you open the draw so you don’t have to rummage all the time. I just had to crouch instead...“ I couldn’t remember which draw I’d put [the fish] in.or have everything at eye-level.

.Cynthia Stobbs Cynthia lives by herself in a one person. Like Vicky. Cynthia was also asked to access her freezer to retrieve an item of her choice. she lives as independently as possible. ground floor flat in Sussex. Despite her age and the onset of arthritis.


“My arthritis means I can’t grip knives or food very well and my fingers and wrist hurt most when cutting vegetables.” . I can’t afford the specialist knives so I’ve started to cook less. in particular.


so when I do go...this means some things do go out of date though.“I find it more difficult to walk the distance to the shops now.” . I tend to stock up.

Audrey Flint and Maurice Still Audrey and Maurice are 79 and 85. They were supplied with a camera for a number of days and asked to record elements of their life that proved difficult or required external help. The images shown depict often simple problems that. . if designed properly should not pose difficulty. respectively and have been close friends for many years.


she finds it inconvenient to continually bend down. this should not affect the independence of older generations until absolutely necessary. . rendering the simple task of changing a lightbulb unnecessarily difficult.cannot access his fuse box without having to bend to awkard angles.a war veteran . Due to the low-level access of Audrey’s fridge. In both Audrey’s and Morris’s homes light fixtures are inaccessible due to their height and careless positioning.With age comes a decline in physical flexibility. Morris . however. Similarly.

Libby Finn Libby Finn has been registered as a qualified BUPA physiotherapist for 10 years. therefore. Her expertise helped to emphasise the fact that physical limits at older ages are restricted. Due to poor product design. hindered in their daily routines. older people and those with arthritis are. .

” Libby Finn .getting down to low stuff does depend a lot on strength in the legs. if damaged can result in chronic pain.. “. which. the elderly population and chronically ill aren’t going to have the strength to squat down to get things out of the bottom of their freezer....the optimum lifting position is with a straight back.. You and I would be perfectly fine.” “..Lifting from the back places strain on the mulifidus muscles (core muscles) surrounding the spine. however.

..bodied’ is such a broad term that your ‘Average Joe’.and that is something that you really have to ‘able bodied’ person should have 150 degree rotation at the knee. who may not consider themselves to have a problem..however ‘able . simply may not have the strength or movement to bend down...” Libby Finn .“.

. reduced strength in the knees can result in further strain on the achiles tendons. which can cause further discomfort. people with osteoarthritis inevitably revert to lifting from the back. when this natural degeneration occurs. According to Libby.With the onset of osteoarthritis.

enlisting the expertise of professionals within the field of elderly independence helped to redefine the area of study. with a particular focus on the kitchen.Therefore. Professionals Rather than focusing on refrigeration techniques. it was decided to broaden observational research into daily routines. .

offer a range of services that help to assess disability.Daily Living Centre Occupational therapists. informed recommendations on products to help a variety of conditions can be made. An observational visit was made to The Daily Living Centre to assess the current market for arthritis-focused products. “the people who often visit. along with their families. depending on their specialism.Derek Moore Occupational Therapist . are those who have recently suffered a stroke or have discovered that they can no longer perform their daily routines. .” Derek Moore Once the needs of individuals are established.


beneficial functional comfortable user-friendly safe .

based in Brighton. either blinded in action or having developed blindness with age. is a centre for ex-Service men and women. aimed to encourage independent living. an employee at St. which are also synonymous with age. “everyone’s eyesight goes as they get older”. According to Mark Brownlow.Mark Brownlow St. Michelle. With the help of Mark and his colleague. . Although there are approximately 20 permanent residents. the aim of this study was to develop an understanding of what the visually impaired require in a product to allow safe and effective use. the majority attend specific classes each week. such as arthritis. Dunstan’s. Dunstan’s Home for Blind ex-Service Men and Women St Dunstan’s. emphasising that this was an issue that needed to be addressed alongside degenerative musculoskeletal conditions.


location form contrast texture sound .

Simulations By simulating the symptoms of arthritis and visual impairment it was possible to obtain first hand experience of problems that occur on a daily basis . .

Arthritis Simulation Arthritis decreases fine motor control in the fingers. such as cooking. which were predicted to reduce grip and dexterity. an investigation into a reduction in dexterity was conducted in a basic kitchen. The task was to prepare and cook a meal whilst wearing large mittens. This can inevitably affect daily activities. thumb and wrist. In response to observations made during initial research and at the Daily Living Centre. . cleaning and getting dressed.

• coordinating vegetable peeler with vegetables • peeling onions • retaining dexterity • grip . Difficulties with... • opening drawers • handling vegetables and utensils.

With Vaseline covered glasses.Visual Impairment Simulation As with the arthritis simulation. . this experiment was to simulate ocular degeneration in order to understand the difficulties associated with it. giving the impression of blurred vision or cataracts. the task was to prepare a toasted sandwich to the best standard possible in the circumstances.

.Location . especially if one is already hindered. the points listed demonstrate how good or bad design can affect the sensory perception of multiple senses.using routine storage spaces for particular items helped navigation around the kitchen Sound .unfortunately in this experiment the texture of the knife was not sufficient to prevent injuries occurring.helps to distinguish one item from another .the bread was removed from the toaster once it had ‘popped’ Colour and contrast .butter was located in the refrigerator through the brightly coloured packaging in comparison to other contents Texture . Although the simulation was terminated early.

. or at least reduce the rotational wrist strength needed to turn dial and key-operated products. studies were conducted to document the action required. Dials & Keys With the aim to eliminate.

all of the appliance dials are turned in a clockwise direction. due to the visual similarities to a clock. . The rotation of the wrist caused the forces placed on each digit to act against each other in the same direction. such as a dishwasher. and the thumb as a solid grip. however. However.Dials The dials featured are found on regular products. washing machine. This research demonstrates that in order to turn a dial on a variety of appliances. As Fig 3. which is a good system image to use. central heating unit. the user requires a decent gripping ability and a further ability to turn the dial using rotational strength in the wrist. forcing the dial to turn on its axis.3 shows. people with arthritis in these areas may not have such capabilities. pressure cooker and an oven. toaster. the majority were operated by using the edge of the index finger. The way in which the dials were held varied slightly from appliance to appliance.

Response In order to explore the limits of wrist rotation. it was decided to design a device that made these routine actions easier for sufferers of arthritis. . These screen shots of an observational video show that in one movement. the operation of a washing machine was documented using film. Even in a healthy individual this proved to be a strenuous movement and required significant effort. the wrist is able to rotate approximately 180 degrees from its neutral starting point (in line with lower arm). In response to the established problem of turning dials easily.

and similar styles.Statement of Need Conducting this initial research facilitated the development of broad statement for a device to help people with arthritis in their hands use and store keys easier. • Turning keys in locks with the aid of the product must be significantly easier than without it. Chubb. • Although the product may help the user significantly. • The product must provide a user-centered and Inclusive method of attaching and removing keys. which must also address the possible elimination of the memory of pain • The design solution must be coherent with Inclusive Design and Emotional Design philosophies. . • The product must be able to accommodate a wide variety of keys. they must not develop a dependence on it. namely Yale.

. When the door is locked. Although it is essentially the task that needs re-designing. rather than due to physical ability.Ben. this was due to poor feedback systems in place within the locking mechanism itself. it is not obvious that the handle must first be pulled up to allow the mechanism to move freely. yet common locking mechanism. the conceptual design stage for a ‘Key Turner’ began. was asked to open a modern. the area is too broad and re- designing a lock and key would not (at this stage) be applicable for the majority of the intended market. however. often seen on doors at the rear of houses. This research emphasises points made relating to the strength needed to grip and rotate every day items. Ben had problems locking and unlocking the door. This problem is mirrored when locking the door. 22.Therefore.

Materials Material choice can affect the functionality. aesthetic and affordability of any product. It was essential to consider the materials’ qualities before proceeding with prototyping. .

CES Cambridge Engineering Selector (CES) is a material selection computer program designed to produce informed design decisions based on pre-determined factors. With the use of this software. due to its lightweight. low cost. it was possible to make informed design decisions based on reliable graphical and tabular data. The most suitable material for the body of th Dial Turner and Key Turner proved to be Aluminium. . environmentally resistant and aesethtic properties.

or commissioning their manufacture elsewhere. thermally stable up to 250oC.the user creates their own personalised grip on a product. 5.SUGRU is ready made and can be injected into ready made moulds/grooves (not injection moulding). 4. This is a much more cost effective solution than producing Glass Rub 50 moulds for the gripping feature. and dishwasher-proof. 2008). the products would be mass-produced. The moisture-reactive molecules within the material start the curing process. self-adhesive silcone” (ni Dhulchaointigh. 3. SUGRU feels and acts like silicone. therefore increasing positive emotional responses from the behavioural and reflective levels of the brain. Emotional attachment . Mass-produced bespoke . Reduced tooling costs .waterproof. .when set. developed by Jane ni Dhulchaointigh during a Masters in Design at The Royal College of Art. therefore has self-healing properties and is extremely impact resistant. Ideal for kitchen use . in industry. 1. Durable and hard wearing . the user essentially has the finishing touches 2.SUGRU SUGRU is a “hand-formable. customised silicone grip.despite. which results in a solid. The material is essentially a rubber that is easily snapped and formed when pressure is applied to it. Integrating this new material technology into the Arthritic Solutions has distinct advantages over other silicone alternatives.

Final Solutions .

[as ] 1 [as ] 2 SUGRU SUGRU rare earth magnets .

com .com www.ds-ign. ds david stevens design solutions T : 07912 755725 E : david@ds-ign.