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Thread: In desperate need of a mechanical engineer page

  1. #1
    healthseekerKate's Avatar
    healthseekerKate is offline Senior Member
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    In desperate need of a mechanical engineer

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    I've been following the primal diet for a few months now, and would love to also be able to do the recommended primal exercise regimen. Unfortunately, I have a neuromuscular disease that causes me to have severe muscle weakness, and my physical abilities are very limited; my main form of exercise is standing in place using the back of a chair for balance, and doing a modified walking-in-place; I do this for 2 - 6 hours per day, to help maintain what strength and balance I still have. I can walk, carefully, if I use a chair for balance.

    My big problem is that I'm too weak to stand from a sitting position, and have to be lifted to my feet by a caregiver. This caregiver is a family member who is elderly, and also has chronic back problems, which have been making it increasingly difficult for him to continue lifting me. Hiring an outside caregiver isn't an option, due to my very limited income, and also, the lift process is extremely tricky, and if performed incorrectly, even once, by a new caregiver, the consequences could be disastrous.

    I'm in serious need of a lift device that will allow me to stand from a sitting position, but then allow me to *detach* from the lift device once standing, so that I can stand and walk independently once standing. I've done extensive research on the lift devices currently available, but unfortunately, all seem to be designed for people with spinal cord injuries, who need to be locked into place in the lift device, so that once standing, their legs are completely immobile. In contast, I need the device to allow me to detach and walk, once standing.

    I just wanted to throw this post out onto this forum, in case anyone is or knows a mechanical or biomedical engineer who might be interested in collaborating with me on designing this lift, or modifying an existing lift so that it suits my needs. I would pay the person who assisted in this design and/or manufacturing process. I've posted a similar request on engineering jobs boards, but so far haven't received any responses, so I figured I'd post here, too, to reach the widest possible audience.

    Thanks in advance to anyone who can direct me to someone who can help with this request. You can send me a private message, if you have confidential contact info to share.

    p.s. my apologies, I don't mean to turn this forum into a job-posting forum, but hopefully this will be perceived as a health-related post... my health will certainly benefit if I can figure out a way to get this lift I need... trying to avoid becoming wheelchair-bound...
    Last edited by healthseekerKate; 08-03-2010 at 12:15 PM.

  2. #2
    Spyhop's Avatar
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    I'm not an engineer and I don't know if you've looked into this already, but perhaps a lift chair is what you're looking for?

  3. #3
    chipdogwa's Avatar
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    I can't help you with a new design but I can tell you that my mother had a chair that tilted and lifted to help her get up. It looked just like a regular chair (kinda like a recliner). I remember an older relative had one when I was younger also (like 30 yrs ago actually). These have been around for some time. Here is a link to what my moms looked like.
    http://www.1800wheelchair.com/browse/287/lift-chairs

  4. #4
    cillakat's Avatar
    cillakat is offline Senior Member
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    my grandma has a chair - like an easy chair - that lifts her high enough that she can stand......

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  5. #5
    Roberta's Avatar
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    Do you by chance live in California? They have excellent Adapted PE programs at the Community Colleges. If not, you should check into any local programs they may have. The teachers would be a great source to help you find any adaptive devices already available. Not to mention the classes would be greatly beneficial to you. It couldn't hurt to talk to a physical therapist either for ideas.

    My dad has parkinsons and has one of those lift chairs that chipdogwa and Cillakat mentioned. It is really good, but using one of those you should be careful to still do exercises to maintain your current strength as much as possible.

    If your trunk strength is pretty good there is a portable chair lift that you can move from chair to chair. It works on a spring mechanism so if you have the strength to get it started it assists with the lift. You would need something to hang on to for balance purposes though.

    I am not an engineer, but am trained in Adapted PE. I don't know if I can help or not but you can PM if you want to talk.
    Last edited by Roberta; 08-03-2010 at 03:58 PM.

  6. #6
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    i am a mechanical engineer currently teaching it at a local university.. I think the best advice was to see if there is anything currently available. most engineers would be a bit leery of designing something like this just from a liability standpoint. if you lived near me I would consider making this a senior design project. I would suggest checking with yoru local university engineering departments.

  7. #7
    healthseekerKate's Avatar
    healthseekerKate is offline Senior Member
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    Thanks for all of your helpful advice, everyone.

    Roberta, I will PM you soon.

    As for the lift-chair idea, it's a good suggestion; I own a lift chair but have been too scared to give it a try. However, even if it does work ok, I will still require a separate, portable lift that can lift me from a variety of seats. I'm hoping to find a job after graduation, and this will require me to function in the real world, so using a lift-chair recliner in that situation isn't workable.

    trapperjohnme, great idea to pitch it as a design project for students. I'll look into this as a possibility. As for the liability issue: if the device is for my own personal use, and I assume all responsibility for it, would the engineer even be liable? Do you know if there is some kind of form or contract that could be signed so that the engineer wouldn't have to worry about this issue?

  8. #8
    Roberta's Avatar
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    This is the sort of portable chair lift I was talking about. Just a sample of what's available. Depending on your trunk strength you could use something like this by itself, or perhaps employ some sort of resistant bands or straps under your bottom or around your trunk to help stabalize you during your lift. I will keep an eye out for your pm.

    http://www.amazon.com/Uplift-Technol..._sim_dbs_hpc_6

  9. #9
    healthseekerKate's Avatar
    healthseekerKate is offline Senior Member
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    thanks for the link, Roberta. Unfortunately, the assistance in standing that I need is much, much more significant than those type of portable lifts can provide. (I've always wondered, are you supposed to sit on that thing until you need to stand up? Would that be comfortable?) It's a good concept, though; very useful for those who need just a little extra 'boost'.

  10. #10
    Roberta's Avatar
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    Okay. Maybe you can PM with a little more info and I can see if I know of something that might help.

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