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Designing for those with diseases affecting the hand[s]

  • 2 min read

When I decided to create the LifeWalker for my wife Jean, an important consideration was the rheumatoid arthritis in her hands.  The walker she was using had hard hand grips.  Jean has fused wrists, and swollen, often painful hands and fingers that are disfigured. Tendons in her wrist were destroyed by RA,  and she lost use of one hand temporarily until they could be re-attached.

 So then, how best to make it easy for her on this upright walker I wanted to build?  One answer was a softer rubber with a large diameter for easier gripping, so used a nice soft neoprene rubber; she loved it.  This was a major change from what was available from any walker company that I knew of.  Another problem was that her wrists are both fused from the disease and her hands somewhat clawed and difficult to use for controlling direction of her walker; making the handle design angled forward somewhat for a more natural grip, and creating settings allowing for her hands to hold handles in a comfortable position, and at various angles from straight up to flat horizontal helped a lot.  I felt that the ability to change position depending upon how her hands were feeling could possibly give some relief.  At the time, I thought it might be helpful for others with hand and grip problems too.

 As we continued to test patients, how hands, fit handles were observed carefully.  Most patients with severe neurological damage affecting arm, wrist, or hand needed handles that could be moved to different positions depending upon their particular problem.

 The result has proven to be a major improvement in walker handle design for people with Jeans Disease, stroke, and other diseases.

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