Custom Laptray for Student

Designers: Michael Marion and Amar Tanna
Client Coordinators: Teepa Snow
Supervising Professor: Dr. Larry N. Bohs

A laptray was built to allow a high school student with cerebral palsy to have more interaction with his classmates. The laptray rests lower than the commercially available trays, enabling him to better access his range of motion. A dynamic box holds paper and then releases it at the movement of a lever, assisting him in his job collecting papers from the rest of the class. A large crate attaches to the tray, allowing him more involvement in the recycling and drama clubs. Finally, a storage bag allows all components to rest securely behind the wheelchair when not in use.

How this project helped
The lower position of the laptray compared to previous trays has already helped the client. His mother said, I’ve noticed how much more motion he has with his arms positioned lower than the armrests. The dynamic paper box will allow him to have some independence in his daily routine at school, since he currently relies on a caregiver. His mother commented, I can really see that it’s going to make it more fun and he’s going to have more independence in doing activities with other kids. I’m looking ahead to clubs or after school activities and the volunteer work for socialization for more natural forms of socialization opportunities.

The laptray surface is 3/8″ polycarbonate, cut in a shape similar to his previous tray, with edges carefully smoothed for safety. Telescoping steel tubing (Figure 1) provides a secure method for attaching and removing the tray. Two 9″ long, 1″ diameter hollow stainless steel tubes clamp to the wheelchair frame. These tubes contain a series of holes, through which lock pins are inserted to set the laptray height. Two slightly smaller tubes attach to the tray using commercial brackets. These tray tubes include a welded angle that matches the angle of the wheelchair-mounted tubes. A series of holes in the laptray, and corresponding pegs in the attachments, secure them to the laptray.

A commercial multicolored collapsible crate attaches to the laptray using two bolts added to its bottom surface. The dynamic paper box (Figure 2) is constructed from 3/8″ polycarbonate. It consists of a three-sided box, hinged to a base plate on the open end, which faces outward from the client. Springs mounted between the base plate and box tilt the box upward away from the student. A polycarbonate lever, mounted to the laptray with a locking pin, secures the box in the lowered position when the end of the lever rests on the lip of the paper box. When the large paddle on the end of the lever is moved to the side, the paper box is released and its contents dump off of the laptray. Re-arming the dynamic paper box involves holding it down and moving the lever back into position. Two bolts protruding from the bottom of the base plate mate with holes in the laptray surface.

A storage bag, consisting of two pockets of royal blue canvas, secures to the rear of the wheelchair. One pocket holds the dynamic paper tray and the other the collapsible crate, in its collapsed position. The bag is covered with a dust flap that falls over the pockets and ties at the bottom of the bag.

The cost of the Custom Laptray and attachments was about $650, including $350 for machining.

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