Project Inclusive

An inter-university, cross-disciplinary exploration

Project Inclusive

An inter-university, cross-disciplinary exploration

—— 01. THE BRIEF

This is a collaborative project between the Industrial Design department at University of the Arts and the Occupational Therapy department at Thomas Jefferson University. Our team of five comprised of two industrial design students, three occupational therapy students and a client.

We worked together to conceptualise, design and prototype to create solutions to improve our client’s most important ADLs (activities of daily living). We considered not only the client, but ultimately the widest population possible to design an informed inclusive product.

teammarsha

—— 02. THE PROCESS

Our client-partner Marsha is 50 years old and is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, scoliosis & spondylolisthesis.

marsha

The result of these symptoms results in the following:

  • Increase in fatigue
  • Decreased endurance
  • Experiences muscle spasms
  • Decreased grasp
  • Lack of joint stability
  • Increased joint laxity

Getting to know Marsha

Our first meeting with Marsha involved general introductions, discovering her background, understanding her diagnosis and taking about the difficulties she experiences on a day-to-day basis. We then performed ethnographic research in the context of Marsha's home to discover her living habits and to identify design opportunities. By visiting Marsha in the context of her own home, we were able to understand who she is as a person and document how she performs with activities of daily living. 

home2
home1
home3
home6

Identified challenges

After visiting Marsha in her home, the next step involved synthesis of data. From this we could draw out the most important issues based on Marsha’s diagnoses, detailed below.

 

weather

Weather

When it rains, Marsha and her chair get soaked. Her feet particularly get wet when caught in the rain.

Weather

When it rains, Marsha and her chair get soaked. Her feet particularly get wet when caught in the rain.

grip

Poor grip

Marsha has poor and uncomfortable grip due to her arthritis. This makes it difficult to use hand-based objects.

Poor grip

Marsha has poor and uncomfortable grip due to her arthritis. This makes it difficult to use hand-based objects.

storage

Storage

"Storage is always an issue". Marsha has issues with reachability and storage within her wheelchair.

Storage

"Storage is always an issue". Marsha has issues with reachability and storage within her wheelchair.

burns

Burns

Marsha has burnt herself a number of times from the spillage of coffee after experiencing a spasm.

Burns

Marsha has burnt herself a number of times from the spillage of coffee after experiencing a spasm.

cooking

Cooking

Marsha eats sandwiches out of convenience & experiences pain and discomfort when using utensils.

Cooking

Marsha eats sandwiches out of convenience & experiences pain and discomfort when using utensils.

space

Space

Marsha’s large wheelchair makes it difficult to move around without hitting objects, walls or doorways.

Space

Marsha’s large wheelchair makes it difficult to move around without hitting objects, walls or doorways.

DSC_3703-2

The point of entry

Marsha is a strong, resourceful maker. Although she lives with multiple medical diagnoses that make getting around without her wheelchair difficult, you will never hear her complain. She loves gardening, crocheting and volunteering but most importantly she loves coffee.

"God forbid I have a spasm... I have 3rd degree burns that will be with me for the rest of my life"

Marsha estimates that she drinks between 5-8 mugs of coffee a day but unfortunately this routine has resulted in several third degree burns. This is a result of the symptoms she experiences from her diagnoses, specifically spasms and decreased grip. With Marsha’s love for coffee and her 24/7 desire for it, how can we prevent spills so Marsha can enjoy her favorite part of the day?

joint1

Poor grip

Marsha describes her thumbs as 'backwards' - the arthritis has caused her joints to shift. She holds her mug with her thumb facing down, causing poor grip & pain.

Poor grip

Marsha describes her thumbs as 'backwards' - the arthritis has caused her joints to shift. She holds her mug with her thumb facing down, causing poor grip & pain.

joint3

Uneven pressure

Due to Marsha's 'backwards' thumb, most of the pressure is dealt around her fingers instead of balancing the pressure between both her thumbs and fingers.

Uneven pressure

Due to Marsha's 'backwards' thumb, most of the pressure is dealt around her fingers instead of balancing the pressure between both her thumbs and fingers.

joint2

Lack of security

Marsha stated that she does not use mugs with handles as she cannot hold them as they are supposed to be held, instead wrapping her hand around the cup.

Lack of security

Marsha stated that she does not use mugs with handles as she cannot hold them as they are supposed to be held, instead wrapping her hand around the cup.

We used the COPM (Canadian Occupational Performance Measure) assessment to measure Marsha’s usability & comfort of her coffee mug: 

COPM1

Although she is at the top of her performance she is still greatly dissatisfied, having experienced severe burns in the past. How can we reduce the risk of future burns and improve Marsha’s favorite activity?

Sketching & Modelling

Based on our current discoveries and our wider implications of joint principles, we began to sketch out ideations for possible cup grips. As a team, we decided to work with a grip that can fit onto a cup or mug that doesn’t have a handle. This was decided as Marsha has a favourite cup which she likes to use, and also to make our design adaptable to a wider variety of cups and mugs.

Through our 'Chunky Monkey' modeling and user testing with Marsha, we were able to establish a new, more comfortable, and pain free way for her to hold the cup. This way of holding the cup meant that the weight of the cup as a whole relied more on the upper side of the index finger, distributing the weight over the hand. Her thumb was also free to move around, and didn’t bend “backwards”, relieving Marsha from pain. 

Design Proposal

Using joint protection principles, we designed a universal sleeve for cups that facilitates effortless grip, improved stability and greater confidence for a variety of users.

The silicone (EcoFlex 50) allows the design to be stretched to fit a large variety of cups. The silicone creates an anti-slip surface for a comfortable grip with low energy control. The open handle provides a variety of different holding methods based on user preference. In Marsha's case, the handle rests on the back of her hand for added security. If her grip was to loosen, the extension would prevent the mug from falling. The koozie can also be attached objects such as a backpack or wheelchair with a karabiner clip for storage on-the-go.

Client Feedback

We gave Marsha our prototype to test and recieved the following feedback:

  • "It’s easier to hold for sure!"
  • "It doesn’t feel like it will slip out my hand"
  • "I like the the ridges on the inside"
  • "I love how it’s gooey"
  • "It’s so much more comfortable and reassuring to hold it this way"
DSC_4138

We then completed the final COPM assessment in order to see how Marsha’s performance, satisfaction and importance regarding usability & comfort of using her coffee mug has changed:

COPM2

—— 03. THE OUTCOME

eCooz is a grip that increases comfort and reduces pain and fatigue by providing a larger surface area to grip and  alternative ways to grasp. 

Coozie
coozie2

—— 04. THE JOURNEY

Have a look over some of the key stages of the project in the images below, or read through the project process journal for full detailed documentation of the project from start to finish.

marshachat
piprocess3
piprocess1
piprocess2
piprocess4
piprocess5

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© Jake Cohen 2021. All rights reserved.

© Jake Cohen 2019. All rights reserved.

© Jake Cohen 2019.
All rights reserved.

© Jake Cohen 2019. All rights reserved.


© Jake Cohen 2021.
All rights reserved.