Spinner for Child

Designers: Ashlan Reid and Peter Hultman
Client Coordinators: Susan Parker and Edie Kahn, Durham County Schools
Supervising Professor: Dr. Larry N. Bohs

The client is a 4 year old boy with thiamine-responsive megaloblastic anaemia (TRMA), also known as Rogers Syndrome. His disease is characterized by severe physical disabilities and limited cognition. The client’s disabilities hinder movement to the extent that his resting position is lying on the floor on his side. He cannot independently rise from his resting position into a seated position. Once assisted into a seated position, he has limited movement. The objective of this project is to improve the client’s quality of life by aiding him in independently maintaining a seated position while allowing him to freely rotate to change his visual field. Secondary objectives include strengthening his abdominal, oblique, and arm muscles, improving his balance, and providing him with greater independence in the classroom.

How this project helped
The Spinner for the client impacts the client’s life in three distinct areas. First, it allows him to strengthen his trunk muscles and improve his balance. These improvements will aid him in attaining a seated position without help. Moving alternatively between a playing position and a spinning position helps develop the targeted muscles, including his arms and hands.

Second, the client is more independent while using the Spinner. The specially      designed seat allows him to remain in a seated position without assistance from classroom workers or tight straps. The ability to spin allows the client to participate in the classroom as he can rotate in response to various stimuli during circle and play time. Third, the detachable seat designed for this device may be used by itself as a stationary sitting aid. This further grants the client more intimate inclusion in normal group activities. The tilting surface extension and Velcro-friendly pads offer two methods of securing various toys to the table so that the client can still gain access to them.

The Spinner for the client (Figure 1) includes a specially designed seat and backrest with optional chest and lap straps to assist the client in maintaining a seated position. The seat is composed of a wooden frame padded with relatively firm supportive foam blocks. The seat is attached with Velcro to a disk that rotates with respect to a base. An adjustable and removable table provides the client with a play surface and houses a tilting surface for other activities. The rotation of the disk is limited to approximately 180o to keep the client within the range of the table. The rotation of the disk is also damped so that the client’s motion is controlled. Evenly spaced notches around the inside circumference allow the client to propel himself to different areas of the table.

A 6″ x 8″ bread-shaped area in the center of the table contains a tilting surface that can be used for artwork, pictures, or toys. This surface normally lies flush with the table, but can be raised to various angles by placing the upper edge of a supporting panel between any two of the rubber stoppers on the back of the primary panel. An attachment to the tilting surface provides 12″ x 15″ of work space. This attachment also has a ledge that resembles the chalkholder of a chalkboard.

To allow toys to be secured on the top of the table, the device includes two detachable side panels of special felt-like material that works well with Velcro. Two toys provided with this device, the Musical Gears toy and the Box and Blocks toy, attach using Velcro. The Musical Gears toy sits on the tilting surface extension and plays music when the client rotates the colorful gears. The Box and Blocks toy can be placed anywhere on the Velcro pads and requires the client to recognize which       blocks fit in each hole. The blocks in this toy are modified so that the client can play with shapes and sizes that he could not normally manipulate with just three fingers.

Each leg of the table is made from a pair of hollow telescoping square poles. The height of the table is determined by aligning a pair of the inner leg holes with a pair of the outer leg holes. Self-locking pushbutton pins hold the legs in position. This arrangement allows approximately 3.5″ of vertical adjustment.

The client’s bucket seat is composed of a trapezoidal wooden shell, five foam cushions, and an adjustable belt strap. The shape encourages the client to sit straight instead of leaning to one side. A pommel fits between the client’s legs to ensure that he cannot slide out of the front of the seat. The belt strap is placed over his lap, angling backwards, so that he cannot fall out of the seat by rotating forward. The seat is attached to the spinning disk using strong Velcro so that it can be removed.

The backrest is comprised of two telescoping poles, a wooden frame, a cushion, and an adjustable chest strap. The height of the backrest is altered as the table height is altered.

The disk is attached with epoxy to a spacer made of Plexiglas. The Plexiglas is screwed to one plate of a Lazy Susan ball bearing. The other plate of the bearing is screwed to the main section of the base. Removing the disk reveals the “pick system” which slows the client’s motion  with a variable resistance. A semicircle of 0.25″ diameter dowels protrude down from the bottom of the disk but do not contact any part of the ball bearing or stationary part of the base. The semicircle extends     for a little more than 180o which covers the full range of the client’s spinning. The only part that contacts the dowels is a small, flexible plastic pick that sticks out horizontally into the disk area from the side of the primary base. As the disk turns, the pick is pulled across the dowels.

This slows the motion of the disk in a manner similar to the “Wheel of  Fortune.” This design keeps the disk from moving freely when the client is in a set position but requires no outside manipulation to allow the initiation of movement. His range is limited to just over 180o using three additional dowels. The cost of the project was $335.

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