Assistive Boccia Ramp

Client Coordinators: Ashley Thomas, Bridge 2 Sports
Designers: Andrew Winslow, Ami Saheba, Eric Sukumar
Supervising Professor: Kevin Caves and Richard Goldberg

Boccia is a variation of the game Bocce, enjoyed by individuals with varying degrees of disability. The object of boccia is to throw a ball closest to a target ball. Assistive devices such as ramps allow people with significant physical impairments to participate competitively. The Assistive Boccia Ramp was designed for an eleven-year old client with Thrombocytopenia with Absent Radius (TAR syndrome), a rare condition in which the individual is born without a radius bone, resulting in very short arms. He has limited hand strength, making gripping and throwing balls difficult. Additionally, our client has difficulty standing for prolonged periods of time as a result of surgeries in his legs.

Our client’s mother stated: “With his physical limitations due to the TAR syndrome, there are few recreational sports [he] can master. This ramp will allow him to experience Boccia to the fullest of his capabilities because it was built with features that tailor specifically to him.”

The ramp consists of a chute with a custom base, handles and a release mechanism. To use the ramp, the player sets the angle and aims it for the shot. Then the player positions the ball behind one of the four “gates”, each at a different height, depending on how much momentum is desired. Finally, the player releases the ball.

The chute is made from a single piece of a 5” diameter PVC pipe, cut in half along its long axis, and it attaches to a curved PVC “elbow” which allows the ball to smoothly roll onto the floor. These parts are cemented together and provide a continuous surface over which the ball can roll without losing momentum.

The bottom of the ramp rests on the floor. The chute is also connected about 2/3 of the way up to two parallel 18” long legs with a bolt and star knob which allows adjustment of the ramp angle and height of the shot. These legs are connected at the bottom to the base with a similar knob that allows for adjustment of leg angle. At each connection site, there is a solid wood block which serves as a stable connector piece. These connector pieces also bear a majority of the weight and force exerted on the device. The bottom connector is reinforced with 4 L-brackets to ensure stability. We mounted trapezoidal stoppers to limit the adjustment range of both the ramp angle and leg angle. This mechanism ensures that the lower connector piece will not experience too much torque nor will the ramp tilt on the player or out of reach of the player’s arms.

The base incorporates a lazy Susan so that the ramp may be rotated easily to aim the shot. The base is 12” x 18” and can be separated from the legs for storage. There is adequate space on either side for the player to place his feet.

There are two handles at the top of the chute which allow the user to hold and maneuver the ramp. The cushion ensures that if the top of the chute is resting on the player’s chest, it will not cause discomfort.

The release mechanism, located on the top right side of the chute, has a small handle which can be rotated clockwise in order to open the four gates which block the chute. All gates are lifted simultaneously. The gates extend approximately 1.5 feet down the ramp, giving the player significant control over the potential energy of the ball.
The handle is easy to hold and turn. The player can place the ball directly behind the desired gate, or place it behind the top gate and briefly turn the release handle to let the ball fall down to the desired gate. At that point, he can then turn the release handle and let the ball roll down the chute.

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