Wheelchair-bound patients in long-term care facilities often have discomfort from slouching and being unable to reposition themselves. And caregivers suffer from strain injuries trying to lift patients into a more upright posture.
In response to a request from a Halifax long-term care facility several years ago, Nova Scotia Community College occupational therapy students designed a posture correction aid to assist both patients and caregivers. A Nova Scotia manufacturer is now refining the design with the help of the college’s mechanical engineering technology researchers.
MacKenzie Atlantic Tool & Die is a Nova Scotia-based company specializing in manufacturing highly diverse products ranging from steel stampings and precision-machined products to fixtures and gauges used in the aerospace, marine, and renewable energy industries. The company is expanding its business into assistive devices for use in long-term care facilities and has partnered with NSCC to validate the design of the slouch correction aid.
The device consists of a chair cover with adjustable straps that can be used to pull a patient into a more upright posture, or to lift the patient from a wheelchair to a chair or bed. This device was previously developed by NSCC Mechanical Engineering Technology students, refined by subsequent student graduates, and licensed to MacKenzie Atlantic.
“The support provided by NSCC has been critical to the success of the project thus far. The ability to draw on the knowledge and experience of such a dedicated and seasoned research team has given us the jump start we needed,” says Matthew MacKenzie, President and Owner of MacKenzie Atlantic Tool & Die.
NSCC has expertise and facilities in bio-mechanics ideally suited for validation and design improvement that will support the company’s commercialization of the product. The team conducted field evaluations at Northwoodcare Halifax Inc. and ran lab testing on the product’s mechanical design to make improvements to the product’s performance. This project has involved students and faculty from Mechanical Engineering and Continuing Care Assistant and Disability Support programs in the Dartmouth, Bridgewater, and Middleton campuses.