DreSS: The Dressing Support System

Designers: Sarah Park, Ronald Lee
Client Coordinators: Amy Loesch, Kristi Duke
Supervising Professor: Dr. Larry N. Bohs

Our client was a 9-year-old girl with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy.  Because of her disability, she had difficulty putting on pants, shoes, and socks without outside help.  We designed DreSS to increase her independence while dressing.

How this project helped
The device enables the client to dress faster and with less effort.  This increases her self-esteem and independence.  After five months use, the client’s father says the following about DreSS, “The dressing chair made by your students for [the client] has worked out very well.  It’s well designed, it looks nice, and she uses it every morning.  It helps her to be independent, and that makes our lives easier too”.

Figure 1 shows the client using DreSS, which consists of a chair, parallel bars, a shoe/clothes rack, and a platform.  Additional features include a shoehorn, no-slip foam covers on the bars, a cushioned backrest, and height-adjustability for both the chair and parallel bars.

A kneeling chair is used as the main structure because it is height-adjustable, and has a natural forward and downward incline. The downward incline of the seat helps the client to maintain her balance by shifting her center of gravity forward.

The steel parallel bar structure is designed for simplicity, safety, and height adjustability.  A plywood platform with dimensions 42” x 39” x _”, is used as the base for the design to prevent tipping.  The edges of the platform are beveled at 45 degrees to prevent tripping.  A one and one-half inch trapezoidal wooden step is included below the chair to also prevent tripping.  The height of the parallel bars adjusts using ball detents on the inner tubes and a series of holes in the outer tubes.

The parallel bars are connected to the chair at its front leg with 90-degree elbow joints, forming a single stable unit.  In addition, a crossbar is connected between the rear vertical members of the parallel bar structure to minimize shearing motion and increase stability.  The bottom horizontal members of the parallel bar structure are bolted to the plywood base.

A shoe/clothes rack attaches to the side of the bar structure.  A shoehorn attaches to the structure with a Velcro, as shown on the left vertical bar in Figure 2.  The structure includes a padded back support, which was an important safety feature included through discussions with the coordinator.  Black, non-slip foam attached to both side bars provides additional comfort and grip.

The cost of parts for the project was approximately $300.

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