Apr 012013

These are two projects taken from the 2006 National Science Foundation Design Projects for people with disabilities yearbook.

To look at the indexes and download the yearbooks please go HERE.


School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
335 Jarvis Hall
Buffalo, New York 14260-4400
Principal Investigator:
Joseph C. Mollendorf (716) 645-2593 x2319


Student Designer: Phil Gott
Supervising Professor: Dr. Joseph C. Mollendorf
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
State University of New York at Buffalo,
Buffalo, NY 14260-4400



This project addresses the needs of individuals who require a cane or some other form of walking aid.  The purpose of this project was to expand on the concept of a conventional cane so that it can be of greater assistance. Canes have a fixed length based on the standing height of the user. When a person is moving from a sitting position to a standing position, however, a normal cane often cannot provide the necessary leverage to help him or her stand. The modified cane shown in Fig. 10.49 is able to assist the user as a standard walking cane, but it also provides superior assistance as the user stands from a sitting position.


In many cases, individuals who use canes require another person to help them stand up from a chair. The modified cane is a portable device that can help anyone who uses a cane rise from any chair, anywhere. People who take advantage of these twocanes- in-one will have more independence.


The cane consists of three major parts: a prefabricated ratcheting device, a slide rod, and a pair of telescoping rods. The ratcheting device, shown in Fig. 10.50, was taken from a caulk gun. It uses springs and small plates to form a trigger and a locking mechanism. The locking mechanism prevents the rod from sliding when it is not desired. The rod from the caulk gun was removed and replaced by a 40-inch-long slide rod. A set of two telescoping rods was attached to form the body of the cane. One of the telescoping rods was attached to the ratcheting device from the caulk gun using a caulk adhesive. The other telescoping rod was attached to the bottom of the slide rod with a pin. The cane can be set to its minimum height, shown in Fig. 10.49, by first pushing down on the locking mechanism to unlock it. The ratcheting device can then be moved down the slide rod so that the telescoping rods are completely overlapping. At this height individuals can use the cane to help themselves stand up from a sitting position. Once a person is standing, the trigger can be pulled repeatedly, until the cane is at the maximum height, shown in Fig. 10.51. At the maximum height, the cane can function as a normal walking cane. The total weight of the cane is two pounds, which is comparable to the weight of other common canes. The total cost of the project was $15.








Designer: Luis F. Landgrave
Design Mentor(s): James Abbas, Ph.D., Dwight Channer, M.S.
Harrington Department of Bioengineering
Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ 85287

The goal was to design a low-cost, mechanical, Tremor Control Arm Brace that can be used by tremor patients when trying to perform certain activities. The client has a hereditary essential tremor.

This project represents a temporary means of reducing arm tremor. Other options are costly and invasive procedures such as deep brain stimulation, neurosurgery or medication. Rather than addressing neurological problems, this project focuses on a mechanical solution for use during short periods of time.

Design requirements were based on one client?s needs but are compatible with the needs of most patients with tremor. The major design requirements were that the product effectively reduce tremor, allow for wrist rotation, have universal sizes, be lightweight, be simple to position around the arm (by the patient alone), and not be very noticeable. The most viable option, given time and budget constraints, was a hinged joint arm brace. The brace has a clamping mechanism in both the upper arm and lower arm with variable pressure settings. These clamps are connected to a stiff bar that includes a lockable joint at the level of the elbow. This joint will allow for movement in flexion and extension while offering the possibility to lock at a certain angle for specific activities such as lifting or pushing. The combination of the arm bar and the arm clamps will offer the necessary resistance to control the tremor. The device is illustrated in Figures 6.6 and 6.7.

Testing was performed on a 3D modeling system called ViconPeak in order to model tremor. An analytical prototype of the Tremor Control Arm Brace has been created and tested in SolidWorks. This design has resisted a pressure of 15 N and passed all stress and displacement tests to effectively reduce tremor. A physical prototype is currently under construction. Future work will include testing this prototype with the ViconPeak system to compare past tremor data with conditions under the effect of the Tremor Control Arm Brace.