Adaptive Soccer Walker
The primary objective of this project is to design and build an adaptive soccer walker system that can be used by our client, Kati, to participate in outdoor recreational activities. Kati is a young woman with Ataxia Telangiectasia. This causes the progressive loss of her motor control abilities. Specifically, Kati has difficulty controlling her lower body strength. She is required to use a walker for balance when participating in any physical activities. Despite this challenge, she loves to play soccer and spend time outdoors on hikes and walking her dogs.
Kati reached out to HCDS when she outgrew her current walker and began having difficulty maneuvering it. The current walker does not provide adequate kicking space and requires a second party to control and stabilize it from behind to prevent tipping and lodging in uneven terrain. Last semester, the team undertook this walker redesign to improve Kati’s overall soccer playing experience. This aim was to eliminate any limitations that prohibit her from playing the sport she loves.
The redesigned walker will strike a balance between comfort and function. Significant modifications include an increased walker base to provide more stability and kicking space, larger wheels more suitable for uneven terrain, and a harness system that helps keep Kati balanced. In addition, the frame is made from aluminum rail that minimizes weight and assembly time. Ultimately, the redesigned walker will allow Kati to independently participate in outdoor activities with confidence.
Documented below are the prototypes, iterations, and analysis undertaken by the team during the design of the adaptive soccer walker.
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- Michael Byckovski
- Erik Carrillo
- Daniel Lutz
- Mallory Jackson
- Aflah Al Abri
Project Advisors: Chelsea Salinas, Joel Bach
Colorado School of Mines
Human Centered Design Studio Crowdfunding
Colorado is one of the most active states with outdoor activity at the heart of daily routine. Residents of all ages enjoy time spent outdoors walking, biking, hiking, skiing and more. Here at the Human Centered Design Studio, members combine their passion for the outdoors and interest in helping others to engineer solutions to improve the experience of those with physical limitations. These products empower all individuals to enjoy sports and outdoors in confidence.
Our Client, Kati, is a young woman who loves playing soccer despite having Ataxia Talengaxia. Her current walker consists of undersized wheels, an unstable frame, and a kicking area too small for Kati’s strides. The HCDS adaptive soccer walker will not only give Kati the ability to play the sport she loves, it will enable independence and confidence while playing. Notable improvements include larger casters with better mobility on uneven terrain and a wider base that enhances the walker’s balance and increases the kicking area for Kati.
Even though this adaptive walker is designed for use by Kati in the sport of soccer, its universal design allows for multipurpose use in other recreational activities. The lightweight nature of the frame makes it an excellent walker alternative to take on the go when traveling as well.
The team began design ideation and brainstorming solutions similar to current market walkers. First and foremost, the team spent effort on improving walker maneuverability and stability. Multiple decision matrices with various design considerations were utilized to refine the walker solution. Design options were weighted against overarching project requirements and objectives. To accomplish this, the team redesigned and considered the entire frame size and shape, wheel selection, and weight distribution.
Next, finite element analysis was performed on the walker’s framing to test bending stress and deformation under operating conditions. Furthermore, analysis results helped guide the team in diagonal support placement. These results satisfied all user specifications and confirmed the structural integrity of the walker. Testing with different users followed to ensure the walker performed well on different uneven terrains.
Over the course of several iterations, the team developed a final design that met all project and client requirements. To achieve this, the walker was divided into three separate subsystems. Focusing on these aspects independently allowed the team to arrive at the best design. The frame redesign addressed stability specifications, new wheel sourcing addressed mobility specifications, and the incorporation of a harness addressed comfort specifications. The three subsystems are outlined in more detail below.
The team initially began designing around our client’s current soccer walker, which is made of circular aluminum tubing. However, the team decided to switch to 80-20 aluminum extrusion rail due to its strength, lightweight, and universal applications. CAD models and FEA were utilized to optimize the support provided by diagonal members while minimizing the overall weight of the walker.
The previous wheels had difficulty maneuvering in tall grass, mud, and most surfaces other than pavement. The wheels were too thin, allowing them to sink into the ground. This vastly restricted Kati’s mobility and balance because it required additional force to unlodge the wheels. The goal in sourcing new wheels and casters was to prevent these limitations.
The new walker includes both larger and thicker caster wheels that will perform better in grass and uneven terrain. The rear wheels are much larger which helps them guide over terrain easier. In addition, there is a quick release system on the back axle that allows the wheels to be detached with ease. This improves the ability to transport and store the walker.
The HCDS walker will incorporate a rock-climbing harness to hold Kati in the walker. This harness is in lieu of the seat that is included with most current market alternatives. A seat causes Kati discomfort and interferes with her ability to play soccer while saturated in the walker. The harness is also attached via carabiners which allows for easy attachment and detachment.
The remaining work on the adaptive soccer walker lies in the physical build. A suitable harness and carabiners have been sourced but not purchased. After analysis iterations in SolidWorks, the team has accurate knowledge on harness points of contact with the aluminum frame. This positioning will best balance Kati’s weight across the upper arm supports.
The next steps for the adaptive walker include:
1. Attach harness onto aluminum framing
2. Attach the handles onto the walker
3. Apply foam covering to any sharp edges
After assembly, the harness will be thoroughly tested to ensure that it meets or exceeds client requirements. If the initial harness style or position falls short of expectations, then further design and iteration will occur so that Kati receives a usable and comfortable solution.
Meet the Team
Erik is a senior in Mechanical Engineering graduating in December 2020. Throughout his Mines career, Erik has been involved with several clubs around campus such as SHPE (Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers); club he is the former Vice President. During his freetime, he likes to play soccer, be outdoors and spend time with friends and family. Erik chose HCDS because it was the capstone project that most fulfills his passion of helping those in need using his engineering skills. He aspires to get hired in the Mechanical Engineering industry post graduation.
Michael Byckovski is a graduating senior in Mechanical Engineering. He is an active member of the club soccer team on campus and enjoys trips into the mountains or downtown Denver in his free time. His interest in helping others and passion for outdoor activities led him to the Human Centered Design Studio at Mines.
Aflah Al Abri
Aflah Al Abri is a graduating senior in Mechanical Engineering. He started the mechanical engineering combined degree program to graduate in 2021 with Master’s degree. In his free time, he likes to play soccer and hike. After graduation, Aflah wants to pursue career in robotics or manufacturing.
I am originally from Skiatook, Oklahoma and I moved to Golden in 2017. I am a senior in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Biomedical Engineering. After graduation I hope to pursue a career designing prosthetics. At Mines, I am a member of Alpha Phi and the Women’s club soccer team, as well as having a job on campus.
My name is Daniel Lutz, I am a senior in Mechanical Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines. I am
involved in a few club and organizations, the primary two being Men’s Club Soccer and the Kappa Sigma
Fraternity. I have an interest in the aerospace and biomechanical engineering fields and the
manufacturing and design process surrounding them. I am set to graduate in May of 2021 and I’m
currently looking for a job.