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Title: Adaptive hydrotherapy wetsuit : user-centred design approach
Authors: Shin, K 
Issue Date: 2019
Abstract: This research took a user-centred design approach to develop a hydrotherapy wetsuit prototype for people with limited mobility. Flotation devices for rehabilitation are generally too bulky and require special machines to fasten and remove the device from the patient. Furthermore, they tend to impair the wearer’s movement as they ride up over the wearer’s shoulders, or are too cumbersome to allow sufficient limb movements. Consequently, this not only creates difficulty for physiotherapists to administer effective hydrotherapy, but it also renders hydrotherapy less cost-effective as it requires a minimum of two physiotherapists to ensure the patient’s safety. Consultations with physiotherapists and patients with impaired leg movements were conducted, and a total of 53 floatation patents was reviewed and buoyant materials were tested. Subsequently, a series of hydrotherapy wetsuit prototypes were designed and developed to achieve two hydrotherapy positions in the water, an upright position and a supine position, whilst limiting the physiotherapists’ assistance. Two distinctive features of the adaptive hydrotherapy wetsuit, adjustability and user-operated adaptability, were to improve hydrotherapy effectiveness while increasing cost-efficiency. First, maneuverability is improved by a snug fit provided by two pairs of adjustable side buckles and an adjustable crotch panel, which prevents patients from capsizing in the water. Second, its user-operated flexibility is achieved by pulling the cord from the front to move the corresponding the movable foam panels in the back, which enables wearers to change between two hydrotherapy positions in the water. This reduces the number of required physiotherapists from two to one. The adaptive hydrotherapy also provides the wearer with maximum comfort through an ergonomic design and skin friendly fabrics.
Research outputs includes a silver medal from the 43rd International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva (2015), a journal publication (2016), a patent (pending since 2015) and two commercial fairs (2015 & 2016).
Rights: All rights reserved.
Posted with permission of the author.
Appears in Collections:Design Research Portfolio

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