DynaVox Mounting System for Therapeutic Riding

Designers: Nicolas Buraglia and David Franklin
Client Coordinators: Lisa Reynolds, PT, Director of Heads Up! Therapeutic Riding Program
Supervising Professors: Richard Goldberg and Kevin Caves

Our client is a 10 year-old girl with Cerebral Palsy who enjoys therapeutic horseback riding.  To allow her to communicate with the instructors and the horse, we developed a mount that attaches her DynaVox communication device to her English saddle. The mount consists of two parts: an adjustable saddle clamp, and a DynaVox attachment bracket. The mount allows her to see and utilize the touch screen surface, giving her more freedom to make decisions and communicate while on the horse.

How this project helped
The DynaVox Mounting System allows a non-verbal rider to communicate with the rest of the world during a riding session. The rider now has the capability to express where he or she wants to go.  The client coordinator commented, “Its so simple! That’s when you know you done a good job. This is huge for us. We’ve been trying to do this for years buy we couldn’t find anything I was comfortable with putting an $8000 piece of equipment on.”

The Dynavox Mounting System (Figure 1) consists of a saddle clamp, quick release attachment, and upper mount. The saddle clamp attaches from the front to the rear of the saddle, with a threaded rod linking either end. This rod resides under the saddle, where a gap provides about an inch of clearance between the saddle and the horse’s spine.  Both end pieces are machined from brass.  The front piece is threaded to accept the rod, while the rear piece has two sidewalls with a groove between, where the rod protrudes.  A large knob with a tapped opening works like a wing nut to tighten the saddle clamp to the saddle.

The quick release attachment consists of two parts. The first contains a slot with dimensions 0.75×0.25×2.5”, which is welded to the front piece of the saddle clamp. The second part includes a rectangular brass rod that fits snugly in the slot.  A T-handle spring pin holds the two parts together, and a lanyard attached to the upper mount prevents the pin from getting lost.

The upper mount was made by modifying a commercial cymbal stand with two pivot joints.  One pivot joint is welded to the front end of the rectangular brass rod.  A ribbed bar extends 4” from this joint. At the end of the bar is the second joint to which attaches a vertical tube to hold the DynaVox. The tube connection includes two 90 degree welded joints to center the DynaVox over the saddle. By adjusting the two pivot joints, the DynaVox can be positioned for safety and convenience. The Dynavox itself is attached to the upper mount using a commercial part from DaeSSy (Daedalus Technologies, Richmond, BC) made specifically for these devices.

The cost of parts for the Dynavox Mounting System was approximately $300.

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