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How can wheelchairs be redesigned for children? (Survey for PhD)

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PeterWright
PeterWright Community member Posts: 7 Listener
edited February 2020 in Research and opportunities
Hi there, 

My name is Peter Wright. I am Studying for PhD at the University of Liverpool into the future design of Pediatric Wheelchairs.

I need advice from people who look after children with CP or from children themselves onto what are the biggest challenges they face from day to day. My goal is to improve children with disability's ability to play and socialize the way non-disabled children are able to.

I am specifically interested in how their ability to play is affected. Free play is vital to a child's cognitive and social development. What could be changed and what isn't good enough with current wheelchairs, any advice would be greatly appreciated. 

Parents

One area I am particularly interested in is designing a chair that allows a disabled child much more opportunity to play freely, without structure, and with other children.

For this to happen, both carers and parents need to feel safe and secure that their child is going to be okay without supervision. With current technologies used, it may not be 100% possible for the parent or carer to feel safe doing this. 

I was wondering, what are the main reasons parents are skeptical to let their child play freely? Is it all safety concerns? Concerns of acceptance of their peers? Lack of trust in technology? Any others? Any comments would be appreciated. 

What specifically inhibits disabled children to join in?

I hope to design a smart wheelchair system that will allow disabled children to have just as much independence and development in their early years, as able-bodied children do.

Any tips or advice you may have would be very welcome. I want to know what specifically inhibits disabled children to join in, what they miss out on the most, what improvements could be made. 

Kind regards,
Peter Wright 

Comments

  • Richard_Scope
    Richard_Scope Posts: 3,636 Scope online community team
    edited February 2020
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    Hi @PeterWright
    It very much depends on the type of CP and the mobility of the child as you probably already know.

    As a child, the only free play I had in my wheelchair would be when a tray was attached. One side effect of the tray would be that my movement was restricted even further.

    Scope
    Cerebral Palsy Programme Lead

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  • PeterWright
    PeterWright Community member Posts: 7 Listener
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    Cheers Richard. Ye I agree, it totally depends on the type of CP. 

    I am particularly interested in children from the age of 0-5 and the lack of independence that comes with being wheelchair-bound. It may be difficult for you to remember, but was it rare for you to be able to explore on your own, without supervision or concern from your therapist or parents? 

    Was it a problem for you to be at different levels to other children? Particularly when young children are playing on the floor, it must have been difficult for you to join in? Did you feel excluded from certain situations? 

    Thank you again, 
    Pete. 
  • janer1967
    janer1967 Community member Posts: 21,964 Disability Gamechanger
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    Hi @PeterWright Hello and welcome to the community. What a worthwhile topic to research. I am a wheelchair user and can appreciate how disabled children would miss out . I am sure some of our members will be able to assist in your research 
  • Richard_Scope
    Richard_Scope Posts: 3,636 Scope online community team
    edited February 2020
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    From memory, it was extremely rare for me to be able to explore on my own at that age @PeterWright

    Playing on the floor was also difficult, I suppose it made me realise that I was different at an early age. I'm not sure that I had any concept of exclusion at that point. 

    Scope
    Cerebral Palsy Programme Lead

    'Concerned about another member's safety or wellbeing? Flag your concerns with us.'

    Want to tell us about your experience in the community? Talk to our

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  • Chloe_Scope
    Chloe_Scope Posts: 10,581 Disability Gamechanger
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    Hi @PeterWright and a very warm welcome to the community! 

    This sounds like such an interesting project!

    I noticed you have posted various versions around the community. I have tried to combine this into one post as research is only allowed within one section of the forum. If you would like me to alter it in anyway then please do let me know. :)

    I wish you the very best of luck with this and it would be great to hear the findings!

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    Scope

  • PeterWright
    PeterWright Community member Posts: 7 Listener
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    Ah amazing, thank you so much, that's really helpful. Could I just ask the post to be inclusive of all conditions that lead to a child having to use a wheelchair? Just as I'm trying to discover how children who have other conditions may be affected also. I only put CP in the CP forum. Apart from that, thank you very much. 
  • Chloe_Scope
    Chloe_Scope Posts: 10,581 Disability Gamechanger
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    I'll change that now @PeterWright! No problem at all. I also have added it to our list of unanswered threads.
    Scope

  • PeterWright
    PeterWright Community member Posts: 7 Listener
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    Hi all,

    I am currently looking for responses to my survey regarding how wheelchairs affect the lives of children. My Ph.D. focusses on trying to make play more accessible for young disabled children who use wheelchairs, doing so by hopefully designing the next generation of pediatric wheelchairs, using technologies such as automation and machine learning.

    It would be great to get any feedback. Attached below is the link to the survey. 
    https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1SozpTah8Yj0fLXaNNWzwas5eHUBTxIACd6EXrhDanzM/edit

    Cheers,
    Pete 
  • forgoodnesssake
    forgoodnesssake Community member Posts: 512 Pioneering
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    Done;  assume you have thoroughly researched what is already out there?
  • PeterWright
    PeterWright Community member Posts: 7 Listener
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    Thank you. Yes I have done. Unfortunately many wheelchair designs for children are just scaled down adult wheelchairs, and very often the user is neglected for clever engineering. I hope to provide a much more user design process, specifically with the intention of allowing young children to play more easily. At the moment there is a distinct lack of chairs available for under 5's. 
  • forgoodnesssake
    forgoodnesssake Community member Posts: 512 Pioneering
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  • PeterWright
    PeterWright Community member Posts: 7 Listener
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    Have come across this ye. My goal would be to involve machine learning and AI techniques that would hopefully deliver both advanced safety features, such as determining gradient control and biometric sensors to determine stress levels, whilst also understanding the child's intentions and adapting to them without them having to consider their decisions. Anything else you come across that you think may be of interest would be greatly appreciated. Thank you again :) 
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