Students develop devices to make life easier for aging Americans
Students showcased two devices to help America’s aging population at the Assistive Technology Lab at Utah State University on February 22. The event coincided with Engineering Week at USU.
An earlier version of one of the devices, a wheelchair lift that helps a caretaker lift and stow a wheelchair into the trunk of a car, has a patent pending. The other device, the mechanics creeper, was developed to allow people to work under a car—even if they cannot use their legs.
Dr. Steve Hansen, a former deputy director of the Space Dynamics Lab and a research professor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, mentored the students who worked on the projects. He sees some broad applications for both of them. The creeper could come in handy for just about any shop with a senior mechanic who would like to minimize the stress on his knees. The wheelchair lift would make life easier for a caretaker who can assist a person in a wheelchair, but who struggles with wrangling a 50-pound wheelchair in and out of the trunk.
Both projects used the facilities of the Assistive Technology Lab and drew from the expertise of its staff.
The wheelchair lift is an option that would help senior couples, said Amy Henningsen, an occupational therapist for the Utah Assistive Technology Program. Too often, if one of them is in a wheelchair, they end up staying home because dealing with the wheelchair is too inconvenient.
Albert LaBounty was the inspiration for the mechanics creeper. He lost the use of his legs 20 years ago, but he didn’t lose his passion for working on cars. He worked with the engineering students who designed the creeper, letting them know what would and would not work. “I asked them to make sure it’s low enough that I can get under the vehicle without jacking it up,” he said.
Read the rest of the story on the CPD website. Links to additional stories about these assitive technology projects, written by outside media, are on the right column of this newsletter.