Crutches for the Future
I hope that none of you reading this have been unfortunate enough to experience 6 weeks on crutches, but if you have you’ll appreciate this new design. The traditional crutch design is often modified by users who wrap padding, duct tape or even socks around the top portion to make it more comfortable. Sounds like poor ergonomics to me, and to one engineering student from the United Kingdom who took designing better crutches personally after a car accident gave him some quality time with them.
Traditional crutch handles are narrow and force pressure into the soft tissues of the hand with every step. Also they are often blamed for chafing and bruising in the armpit area. Back pain has also been a complaint of users whose crutches did not adjust to their height.
Guy Robinson has sought to solve all these problems with a crutch designed for the human who will have to use it. Guy’s crutches are made of easy to mold, but strong carbon fiber. Then came the need to find a better shape. Guy watched his roommate get fitted for a prosthetic leg and noted that the leg was C shaped with an L shaped foot. He thought this design may also work for crutches. This design allows for some impact to be absorbed before it reaches the handle.
The final handle design mimics how pressure is distributed across the feet when standing. It takes pressure off the soft middle part of the hand, and allows the stronger heel and knuckle sections to take the strain. A very different design is also encompassed in the top of the crutch which envelops the forearm in material, instead of a small contact patch, which expands around the arm and distributes pressure evenly.
The crutches which won a Product of the Future awards will be on showcase at the Antenna Live workshop at the Science Museum. Guy hopes to start production of his crutch with a recently awarded grant.