The Speedy Recovery Vehicle

Designers: Melissa Latorre, David Semko and Jen Wei

Client Coordinator: Jennifer Edelshick, Duke Hospital

Supervising Professors: Kevin Caves, Richard Goldberg

Children in hospital settings can experience feelings of fear and anxiety when faced with the task of getting into wheelchairs. The purpose of this project was to design and assemble a wheelchair that is fun and visually appealing to children. The Speedy Recovery Vehicle combines the functionality of traditional wheelchairs with the visually appealing design of racing dune buggies. The vehicle includes a custom welded frame, a reclining seat, and a colorful interactive steering wheel. Its small size makes it easy to store, and ideal for children in the 2-6 year old age group.

The Speedy Recovery Vehicle has the potential to make hospitalized children who are scared of riding on traditional wheelchairs into cooperating patients. Jennifer Edelshick, our supervisor at Duke Hospital, remarked “The speedy recovery vehicle is a kid friendly means of transportation for sick kids. I think as physical therapists we will use it to motivate kids to get out of bed and sit up in a chair. It will also be a helpful way of getting them to want to go to the gym. This will allow kids to get the therapy that they need, without as much trauma.”

The Speedy Recovery Vehicle (Figure 1) includes a custom welded frame, smooth rolling wheels, a reclining seat, footrests, a steering wheel, arm rests, a safety belt, an IV pole, and a storage area for an oxygen tank. The frame is constructed from 1″ diameter aluminum tubing, making it lightweight and non-porous. Contoured handles make it easy for hospital staff to push the vehicle, and they can clean and sterilize it with traditional disinfectants made for non-porous equipment. The front caster wheels are solid polyurethane and 2″ in diameter, while the rear pneumatic wheels have an 8″ diameter. Custom welding of the frame was performed by KBC Machine Shop (Sterling Heights, Michigan).

The seat of the vehicle, like a wheelchair, can be reclined back 30 degrees back from upright, in 5-degree increments by moving a retaining pin. The seat is made out of plywood and high quality foam covered in a non-porous vinyl fabric. It easily supports the weight of a child in the 2-6 age group. The back support of the seat is 18″ tall, the seat is 14″ x 14″ inches, and the seat is 12″ from the base of the vehicle.

The frame is painted red, and racing stripes and a decorative logo are stitched into the seat fabric. The vehicle is 42″ long and 16″ wide, allowing it to be stored more easily than plastic play wagons available for children in the hospital, which are 42″ x 21″.

Two pairs of footrests are provided, both constructed from the same materials as the seat. One pair resides on the floor of the vehicle, 12″ lower than the seat, and can support the child’s legs at a 90-degree angle. The other pair resides on the front of the vehicle, supporting a child’s extended legs. Either pair can be topped with an appropriate pillow to provide for different sized children.

The steering wheel is mounted on a pivoting arm, so it can be rotated out of the way by the hospital staff when placing a child inside the vehicle. It contains a cartoon of the highway that moves as the wheel is rotated, and bright buttons with pictures of different animals that make sounds when pushed.

An oxygen tank can be stored either in an upright position on a 4.5″ wide metal platform at the rear of the vehicle, or at a 45-degree angle under the seat. A metal chain attached to the back of the seat prevents the oxygen tank from toppling when stored upright. For the 45-degree angle storage, a holding device is built underneath the seat, and the footrest serves as a ledge for the bottom of the tank.

An IV pole, constructed from 1/2″ aluminum tubing, extends 29 inches from the top of the seat of the vehicle. It contains a hook at the top that can support the IV. Aluminum armrests on each side of the seat prevent the child from falling out sideways. One end of the armrests is attached to the seat frame with a pin that can easily be removed by the hospital staff to move the armrest out of the way when placing a child inside. A safety belt is attached to the bottom seat cushion to secure the child firmly in the seat.

Cost of the Speedy Recovery Vehicle was about $610.

Comments are closed.