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Ponytail Helper

Enabling Engineering

The Need:

The client has muscular dystrophy, which makes it difficult for her to put her hair up or change her hairstyle on her own. The goal of the project is to design a mechanism to allow her to put her hair in a ponytail despite her limited range of motion.  The ideal end-product would be functional within her range of motion, and would also be safe and reusable. It would also be easily removed independently.  In the past, she has had an aide assisting her at home, but she would like a mobile device that allows her to independently change her hairstyle.

The Solution:

The previous groups used a mechanical release system that deployed the hair tie around the hair once it was gathered. The tube that would gather the hair was attached to a sliding track system controlled by motors. The plan was to have the whole system controlled by switches to minimize the user’s mechanical input. After re-examining the design at the end of the fall semester and over winter break, we have come to the conclusion that it will not fit the needs of the client in an effective way. Therefore, this semester we created a new design in a different direction that will help her put her hair up. Our new design currently consists of the following features:

  • Creating a clamp that could be placed around the hair and holding the shape of the ponytail while the user puts a hair tie on

  • Clamp would lock to keep the hair shape and would release on demand

  • Easy to use hair tie (possibly a bead design like the One-Handed Ponytail)