Innovation for Independence

Evolvable Walking Aid; the modular range can be assembled to form different walking aids.

The Modular Walking Aid components
Publish date:
16/01/2015 - 1:33am
Last updated:
27/01/2015 - 11:11am

Currently, during a case of mobility rehabilitation or deterioration, a person is required to switch between, on average, three different walking aids in order to obtain the correct support. Having the correct support reduces the risk of further injury or falls, which are only due to rise with the increasing use of walking aids resulting from a growing and ageing population. The modular walking aid enables the ideal type and level of support for long term users of walking aids throughout changes in their condition. The ability to gradually adapt a walking aid so that it evolves with the user, rather than suddenly changing to a completely different type of walking aid, minimises the negative financial and emotional impacts associated with transitioning between walking aids. The complete adaptability of this design enables the required support to be achieved at minimal cost and on demand, making it more accessible than existing walking aid designs. The components required for assembling a walking stick, crutches, a walking frame and variations of these aids will be available in a modular kit form to be assembled and adapted by the users’ mobility professionals. This design provides a long-term, sustainable, affordable, emotionally durable and cost efficient solution to mobility rehabilitation and deterioration; no existing products or services facilitate this.

Insight & Impact

As a design engineer, this issue was discovered through working with and observing a wide range of mobility-challenged people using various types of walking aid, and spending time with the experts supporting them (e.g physiotherapists and occupational therapists). Whilst working for a year designing equipment for people with disabilities at the charity MERU (Medical Engineering Resource Unit) I was involved with designing bespoke walking aids; those available on the market are far from inclusively designed and do not cater for the diverse spectrum of needs. Physiotherapists from various charities in England and Peru highlighted the need for greater adaptability in walking aids. The NHS's financial loss caused by expenditure on mobility equipment like crutches has been repeatedly highlighted in the news, proving the need for a cheaper more efficient system. The need for a modular walking aid design has been validated by a spectrum of mobility experts and has been praised by physiotherapists, occupational therapists, elderly walking aid users and mobility researchers, confirming that the design will make their lives or the lives of their patient’s better. The evolvable walking aid gives physiotherapists guaranteed access to the exact walking aid they require and enables them complete control over the type and level of support provided, as their patients’ conditions change.