This project addresses the problem of elders falling and not being able to get back up. This is a significant issue as the population of people over the age of 80 has expanded from 69.2 million in 2000, to a predicted 379 million in 2050. In 2012 alone 2.4 million nonfatal falls were treated in emergency departments. The CDC also reports that of those falls, 70-80% of elders had no serious injuries, but often even if the elder is not hurt, they are not able to get themselves up without some kind of aid such as another person or a nearby chair.
Our device is intended to be an accessory to a basic medical walker. Through our experience visiting elders and speaking with our partner, Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly, we have concluded that this is the kind of walker that the majority of elders have, so therefore our device will be able to help the most people possible. The purpose of the device is to attach to a medical walker, and be able to function as a chair when the elder is in need of one, but fold away so as not to inhibit regular walker use. The chair is useful both as an aid to help an elder push themselves up when they are on the ground after a fall, or to easily rest in when they begin to feel weak, which is a sign of an impending fall. Our device uses two horizontal aluminum support bars that connect the front and back legs of the walker. A plastic seat is connected to these support bars at the front of the walker. It uses a spring so that you can pull it down, but it is naturally in the “up” position. The bars are at an angle such that the seat rests on the bars for support. In addition, we are designing a wheel lock system using a latch attached to the bottom of the walker leg. When the elder is on the ground they will be able to flip a rubber block that is above each wheel, and the spring will force pressure onto the side of the wheel, inhibiting it from moving.
This project is in progress. The design is currently being finalized.