Designing a pediatric recreational walker for use on uneven terrain
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It is widely known that physical activity is important for optimum physical and psychosocial health. This is especially true for those with functional limitations. The most common cause of functional limitations in childhood is cerebral palsy (CP). CP is a term that describes a group of motor function disorders typically characterized by mobility limitations related to motor function impairments. Sedentary gaming and creative activities are prolific among children in the United States. Children with CP are no exception(R. J. Palisano, 2012)(R. J. Palisano, 2012). It has been purported that increases in anaerobic fitness result in increases in aerobic fitness in children with CP. An active lifestyle is also important for healthy aging in the CP population. Group recreational physical activity has been shown to greatly improve physical and psychosocial wellbeing. Subjective enjoyment levels of recreational activity have been linked to environmental factors and individual preferences for types of recreation(Shikako-Thomas et al., 2012)(Shikako-Thomas et al., 2012). The inference then, is if a child with functional limitations caused by CP has increased access to a variety of physical activities, so increases her likelihood of gaining overall mobility, effectively preparing for healthy aging, and increasing her physical stamina. The goal of the project is to improve accessibility to outdoor recreational activities for children with mobility impairment. The project used a human centered design approach to identify key stakeholders and categorize needs appropriate to each stakeholder type: primary, secondary, and tertiary. Iterative cycles of design and stakeholder feedback were conducted and evidence based methods used to evaluate a functional prototype. A closed course was built following USDA Forest Trail Service Accessibility Guidelines(FSTAG) and subjects asked to make multiple traverses of the course with their prescribed assistive device followed by the proposed recreational walker. Objective and subjective measures were recorded and presented for review. Final design decisions were consolidated into CAD renderings.