The Dynamic Overall Lifestyle Performance INstrument (DOLPHIN) – (Duke University)

ABSTRACT

The client is an 11-year-old girl with osteogenesis imperfecta, which limits her range of motion and makes independence difficult. The goal of this project is to develop a device that will allow her to interface safely with a variety of educational instruments, and control her bedroom’s electronic systems. The device will consist of a freestanding bedside base with a rotary apparatus that supports several wheelchair-compatible instruments. Gooseneck cable will attach each instrument to the rotunda for maneuverability, and a rotating arm will move the apparatus aside to allow the client’s therapists to access her without obstruction. The device will also include a control panel with capacitive sensors that that allow her to control the lights, fans, and television in her bedroom. This device will allow the client to interact with educational instruments as well as control her bedroom environment. Upon testing, the client was able to easily rotate the instrument device and enjoyed being able to control the instrument position in space.

BACKGROUND

Our client is an energetic and eager 11-year-old with osteogenesis imperfecta, a rare disease which affects 1 in 20,000 individuals (www.oif.org) . As a result, our client commonly has major and minor fractures, cannot stand or to sit up independently, and spends most of the day either laying down or sitting in a wheelchair. Our client therefore depends on an assistant, usually her mother, to perform simple tasks like turning on and off the lights, fan, and TV. She also requires assistance in moving books or toys from their storage shelf to the bed, so that they are within reach. Finally, since our client cannot sit up in bed, everything must be held where it can be easily seen, either by the client or by an assistant. As such, our client’s arms tire quickly due to constantly holding things up. This is problematic for the in-home schooling that our client receives, making interactions with the teacher less efficient and tiring. For schoolwork, our client often requires access to a whiteboard, iPad, and a laptop computer. Therefore, the goal of this project was to create a device that holds her learning instruments and a control panel for the lights, fan, and TV in our client’s room within arms reach. The device is maneuverable and adaptable   the device must be designed so that our client will not fracture a bone when using it. To address these needs, we built a maneuverable arm with a rotunda to hold the instruments, and a control panel to switch on the lights, fan, and TV in her room. The device has multiple points for adjustment, and the instruments can be easily removed from the device and placed on our client’s wheelchair.

 

TECHNICAL DESCRIPTION

The DOLPHIN consists of a base, telescoping arm, a rotunda, several instrument attachments, and a control panel. The steel base is a converted engine stand that has been modified with a side support to allow for two stable positions for the rotating arm. The base also features a bottom pole seat and a pole pinning adapter to stabilize the rotating arm.   The steel telescoping rotating arm can be adjusted for various heights using a pin-locking system. The arm can be rotated to one of two stable positions using the arm position locker, one above the client and one ninety degrees away. The arm is bent twice so that it suspends the rotunda over the client. The curvature is stabilized by two steel braces welded in place.   The rotunda consists of an HDPE wheel, a bearing, a wheel support washer and bolt, an aluminum plate, and spring plungers. The wheel is bolted to the bearing, and rotates relative to arm. To decrease the possibility of failure, the wheel support bolt and wheel support washer are used to fasten the bearing securely to the suspension rod. The wheel rotates easily, while locking into place at six designated locations by means of spring plungers, which press into holes in the aluminum plate. The plungers’ height is set so that our client can rotate the rotunda easily.   Five instruments are attached to the rotunda using goosenecks with modified flanges. The instruments include holders for a tablet, iPod, whiteboard, book, and Wii remote. The goosenecks allow our client to adjust each instrument as desired, and provide handholds to turn the rotunda.   The acrylic touch sensor panel consists of eight programmable sensors that respond to a light touch, activating an infrared protocol. The sensors can control the lights, fans, and television in our client’s bedroom. The panel is fixed on an adjustable arm that clamps onto the client’s bed.

DESIGN

The main structure of our device consists of a telescoping arm that sits in a sturdy base. The arm can be adjusted vertically as well as rotated to one of two positions ninety degrees apart. It suspends a rotunda that contains attachments for several instruments. The rotunda consists of an HDPE wheel, a bearing, a wheel support washer and bolt, an aluminum plate, and spring plungers. HDPE was selected for its high strength (30 MPa),  relatively low weight, and low cost. The wheel is bolted to the bearing, and rotates relative to the suspension rod. In order to decrease the possibility of failure, the wheel support bolt and wheel support washer are used to fasten the bearing securely to the suspension rod. The wheel rotates easily, while locking into place at six designated locations by means of spring plungers. These plungers lock into holes in the aluminum plate. We selected a specific height for the plungers so that our client can rotate the rotunda easily. The rotunda contains six locations for instrument attachment. Instruments are attached to goosenecks with a pin-locking mechanism. The other end of each gooseneck is attached to flanges that are screwed into the rotunda. The instruments and goosenecks provide handholds for our client to turn the rotunda. To move the entire device, push or pull on the rolling base, which will cause the entire device to roll. The device can be steered with the caster wheel at the end of the middle beam. The floor support is lowered into the down position by first removing the pin, rotating the floor support such that the stopper is in contact with the ground, and inserting the pin through the aligned holes in the rear beam and floor support. When down, the floor support enables the safe storage of the arm overhead. For height adjustments, the locking pin is removed, the main arm is manually lifted up or down, and the pin is replaced in a new hole. To rotate the arm, the main arm must be slightly lifted and rotated to the unoccupied lock position, which is facilitated by the arm position locker. Any of the instrument attachments can be utilized to turn the rotunda with a slight push. The instruments act as a lever to decrease the force required to turn the wheel. Similarly, the rotunda itself can be grabbed and turned in order to rotate the instruments. Gooseneck cables are threaded into plastic flanges that are bolted to the rotunda.  Each gooseneck connects to an instrument holder using a pin-lock system.  19 in goosenecks are used for the iPod, iPad, white board, and Wiimote interfaces, and a 13 in gooseneck is used for the book adapter.

SUMMARY OF IMPACT

The DOLPHIN allows our client to independently use several educational and entertainment devices, as well as control her bedroom environment. It is being incorporated into her daily lifestyle and homeschooling sessions.  Our client’s mother is very pleased with our device because it relieves her of having to assist her daughter with routine tasks. Our client herself is very happy with the DOLPHIN, and exclaimed “I can reach everything!” upon delivery.

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