Play Chair

Client Coordinator: Diane Scoggins, Hilltop Home
Designers: Carol Chen, Eugene Kim, and David Wu
Supervising Professor:  Larry Bohs

Our client is a six-year old boy with multiple physical and mental disabilities.  He seeks independent movement and outside stimuli, desires that were satisfied through inappropriate, self-injurious behaviors.  The Play Chair is a modified booster seat suspended from a custom frame with toy attachment points.  The client can generate his own rocking movement, and play with the novel toys presented to him through the device.

Since he outgrew his baby rocker, our client has not had an adequate, dependable, and safe way to satisfy his desires for independent movement and external stimuli.  The Play Chair fills these, and provides a change from his confining wheelchair, where he spends a significant portion of his day.  His primary caretaker says, “(He) loves the chair!  It has been wonderful to have an additional positioning option for this very active little boy.  He thoroughly enjoys the sensory input that he receives from using this chair.”

The frame of the Play Chair (Figure 1) is constructed with 6105-T5 aluminum alloy from 80/20 Inc.  Two aluminum side beams connected by a crossbeam make up the base of the frame.  Two vertical beams are attached to each side beam.  Joining plates hold the frame together.  Custom-made Delrin plastic blocks secure four locking swivel casters to the bottom of the frame.

To serve as armrests, two 1”×4” spruce planks are mounted on top of the four vertical beams by corner brackets.  To prevent the client from injuring himself when he hits the armrests with his hands, these wooden planks are padded with polyurethane.  Waterproof vinyl fabric covers the armrests so that the client’s caretakers can easily clean up any spills.  U-bolts, cushioned with clear plastic tubing, are fastened to the armrests to provide attachment points for toys.  Additionally, two strips of Velcro are attached to each armrest to allow for more toys to be connected.  The U-bolts and Velcro strips allow toys to be changed to continuously provide a novel source of entertainment for the client.

The seat of the Play Chair is a modified commercial booster seat (Evenflo Model No. 3341791A).  An easily adjustable 3-strap seat belt is attached, holding the client comfortably and securely in the seat.  To reinforce the seat base-to-back connection, two wooden back braces are attached.  A wooden wedge inserted into the cavity between the base and the back significantly increases the rigidity of the base-to-back connection.

Two rubber straps suspend the booster seat within the frame.  Carabiners connect the rubber straps to eyehooks on the vertical supports.  The straps are strung through holes drilled in the base of the booster seat.  Custom grommets made of high-density polyethylene plastic reinforce the holes where the rubber straps go through the chair.

To prevent the client from rocking too far forward or backward, two springs are attached from the shoulder section of the booster seat to the eye hooks on the rear vertical beams via carabiners.  Plastic tubing covers these springs so that they can not scratch or pinch the client.  Figure 2 shows the client sitting in the Play Chair.  The cost for the chair is approximately $350.

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