Steady Stepper

Designers: Christian Agudelo, Dorothy Lowell and Troy Swimmer

Client Coordinator: Annette Lauber, North Carolina Assistive Technology Project

Supervising Professor: Larry Bohs

Our client is an energetic and active adult who has cerebral palsy (CP) and uses a wheelchair. We designed the Steady Stepper to address her request for a safe and effective weight-bearing home workout. This device utilizes a stair-stepper coupled with a custom railing system to aid in transitioning from the wheelchair to the stair-stepper, and to provide stability while stepping. Interchangeable wooden pegs mounted to the bottom of each step allow for a varying range of motion. Weight distribution over each step, and variable foot position, provide variable workout intensity.

The Steady Stepper gives our client the opportunity to exercise independently in the comfort of her home. She commented, “I am so pleased about the stepper and especially the versatility that was built into it which I think went beyond my expectation. My maximum time of using it in a single session is 7 minutes which was great. It really helps to relax my leg muscles. The stepper fits so easily into my regular routine and I anticipate years of use to help me maintain good health.”

The Steady Stepper (Figure 1) uses a commercial portable stepper (In Stride, Stamina Products) attached to a custom railing system.

The railing system consists of four side handrails: two top handrails and two bottom handrails, which attach to a wooden base. Each handrail is made of U-shaped pieces of 1″ diameter aluminum piping. The front rail attaches diagonally across the four side rails and serves as a truss to prevent parallelogram failure. The caps on the extruding aluminum pipe prevent injury. Each handrail is covered in a foam grip. The aluminum railing is attached to a wooden base with shotgun clamps, which are welded to four 4″x2″ aluminum plates, bolted to the base. Bending, welding, and design consultation were provided by Kaye Products (Hillsborough, NC).

The wooden base extends 10″ past the railing so that the client’s wheelchair can be rolled onto the base and secured by locking the wheels. The leading edge of the base is angled 45o to ease the transition. Two wooden placement strips are bolted to the base-plate to prevent the stair-stepper from moving horizontally. Since the stepper is not permanently attached to the base-plate, it can be easily removed if desired. The exercise monitor of the stepper is attached to the middle of the front handrail with a Velcro strap, allowing the user to adjust the angle of the display.

Five pairs of color-coded stoppers allow the client to vary her workout intensity by screwing a different pair into the bottom of each step, thereby altering the maximum step travel. The stopper lengths are 1″ (black), 2″ (red), 2.5″ (green), 3″ (yellow), and 3.5″ (blue).

Cost of parts for the Steady Stepper was approximately $510.

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