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  1. DesignStudent

    Questions on your experiences

    Hi everyone, My name is Alex and I'm an industrial design student at University of Cincinnati. Currently I'm trying to design a walker for people suffering from Parkinson's, after seeing how difficult movement is for a friend of mine who has the disease. I know it is a sensitive topic and I don't want to tread on anyone's toes, but your input is invaluable as a patient or caretaker who deals with Parkinson's everyday. The last thing I want is to make something useless out of naivety or lack of comprehensive forethought. I know everyone has different a different experience with the disease and I'd like to account for the different ways it may affect you. I have a number of questions, and I hope have a conversation about them with you rather than offer a survey for you to complete. I'll try not to write a wall of text while explaining every one of my questions, but I think a bit of context might help. If you're interested in more background I'll gladly provide additional information. One area I'm looking at is staircases. My friend (whom I'll call George out of respect for his privacy) uses multiple walkers, because he can't take them up and down stairs. One idea I have is to make a lightweight walker that can help him move up and down stairs with greater ease. However, I also realize how devastating a fall can be if it were to happen. What are your experiences on staircases? Do you require a handrail? If so, how do you use it? (One or both hands, for balance, weight support, etc?) Would you be interested in a walker that can go on stairs at all, or would such an idea be too risky to use in a real world situation? Another area I've looked at is freezing. There are some mobility devices out there that have laser guides or small sticks that you can step over, which reportedly help rewire the thought process behind taking a step so that freezing can be counteracted. Similarly, I've read that walking on patterned tiles (checkerboard or white and black stripes for example) can help make walking smoother. Do you have any thoughts on this, in terms of your own experiences with freezing, personal remedies, and opinions on such technologies/practices? My last focus is on the adjustability of walkers. If you have a folding walker, how often do you fold it up and for what purpose? Most walkers can be adjusted for height, but do you ever wish it could be more easily changed? For example, for people who have difficulty getting out of a chair, do you ever wish your walker was a different height to help with standing up? I sincerely hope not to insult anyone with these questions. Any answers at all would be greatly appreciated, and of course only answer what you are comfortable talking about. If you have any advice for me in terms of approaching the topic in the future, please do let me know. Thank you for all your help! Regards, Alex