Power Soccer Bumper Attachments

Designers: Michael Holliday, Anastasios Kydoniefs, and Anna Leigh Rack-Gomer

Client Coordinator: Kim Lyons, Durham Parks and Recreation

Supervising Professor: Larry Bohs

Bumpers are required in power soccer to protect the player and provide a flat striking surface. The commercial bumpers used by the Durham team were difficult to attach and detach, and unstable during game play. Two new attachment mechanisms were developed to be compatible with commercial bumpers. One attaches to the footrest supports, and the other attaches to the stable sidebars of the wheelchair. Bumpers can now attach more quickly than before, using hardware that makes them more durable during game play.

The power soccer team coach, Kim Lyons, commented “Thanks to the (device), Durham Parks and Recreation Power Soccer team can play a whole tournament without repairs. That has never happened to the team before. In the past, individual guards would have to be fixed and readjusted any time a player made contact with another chair. This would leave very little time for playing or coaching. Now we can focus on playing.”

After examining the wheelchairs and commercial bumpers (Power Soccer Shop, Tampa, FL) of the Durham team, we determined that two attachment approaches were necessary: one to the lower horizontal bars of the wheelchair frame (Figure 1), and the other to the footrest support bars (Figure 2).

For both types of wheelchairs, we first made the bumpers themselves more durable. As wheelchairs collided during game play, the two bolts on the front of the bumper would slide together, causing adjacent sides of the bumper to collapse. To address this problem, we added a 2×8″ retainer bar of 1/16″ steel behind these bolts, thereby preventing them from moving together. We also replaced the original hardware of the bumpers. Instead of the six hex-head bolts, we added combo-head machine screws so they could be tightened with either Philips- or flat-head screwdriver, with split lock washers and nylon-insert locknuts to prevent loosening of the hardware after repeated impact.

To attach the stabilized bumpers to wheelchairs with usable footrests, circular hose clamps were mounted to permanent locations on the bumpers, two on each side, such that the open ends of the clamps faced inward from the bumper sides. A nut was welded to one side of each clamp, so that when the bumpers were inserted over the footrest supports, a machine screw with a large phenolic knob could be used to tighten the clamps over the footrest supports.

For the wheelchairs with unusable footrests, we attached the bumper to the lowest horizontal side members on the wheelchair base, using custom clamps made from stainless steel plates and commercial pipe joints. On each wheelchair side member, two plates were bolted together so as to sandwich the member. A 1.5″ rotating pipe-to-plate joint was bolted to the outer of these plates, and fixed in rotational position with a screw. Attached to the bumper was a matching joint with a free angle to absorb the impact of a collision. An 1.5″aluminum pipe connected these two joints. The aluminum bars were permanently connected to the joints on the bumper, so they could be inserted into the joints on the wheelchair and secured with an allen screw before games.

Cost of parts for the Power Soccer Bumper Attachments was about $690.

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