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Shower chair modifications

  • Paul Everington
  • Cleveland
  • 2024-006
  • Complete
  • 0 comments

The client has a form of Cerebral Palsy called FOXG1 which results in regular random movements of the arms and legs. Although showering is carried out in a specially designed shower chair, the hard surfaces of the shower chair often result in significant bruising. The chair required several modifications to prevent bruising from the arm rests, side supports, chair frame, control levers and foot rest.

The Challenge

The client’s mother would like to be able to help her daughter shower and toilet without risk of injury. The design of the client’s existing commercial shower chair seemed to assume that the user will remain stationary, which is not the case for someone with FOXG1. The regular random movement of the client’s arms & legs has perviously resulted in bruising from contact with the chair arms, frame, controls & footrest. It would appear from the chair manufacturers website that they do not offer any suitable padded options to address these problems. The modifications created will offer significant additional safety during showering and toileting. As the chair was supplied by the NHS, it was essential that all parts of the modifications could be added & removed without any permanent changes or damage to the chair.

Prior to the development of this solution the client had created ad hoc improvements to the chair using a combination of pipe lagging and stretchy netting, as can be seen here:

:

The solution

The solution consisted of several separate parts which were added to the shower chair as follows:

To address the hard surfaces of the existing chair arms and side supports, 3D modelled parts were designed that could be printed in a flexible plastic filament called Thermosetting Polyurethane or TPU. Despite TPU being a soft and flexible filament, it was felt that the initial test parts were a bit too firm, so a series of test swatches were created to evaluate different infill patterns and densities. Using the best infill options, the test parts were reprinted and found to be very flexible and yielding. These parts took around 25 hours to print and provided an easily installed and removable solution to the risk of bruising from the chair arms and side supports.

A video showing the printing of one of the arm rests can be viewed here: Test video.mp4

To address the problem created by a small blue lever used to move the seat position, which protruded from the frame, a small clip on flexible dome was created. In addition, a set of soft bumpers were created to hang from the base of the chair arms to provide protection from the rigid plastic of the seat base.

Video showing the upgrade in progress: Arm and foot rests.mp4

The completed set of 3D printed parts can be seen here:

To address the risk of bruising from the hard plastic foot rest, a foam padded rest covered in a soft faux leather made from a washable PU fabric was created. This was attached to the original foot rest support arms using a set of custom 3D printed brackets which would again allow the part to be easily added and removed without damage to the original chair.

A short video showing most of the modifications in place can be viewed here: Arm and foot rests.mp4

Video of the side support and arm rest can be viewed here: Sides arms and buffers.mp4

Video showing the attachment of the side buffers can be viewed here: Side buffer attachment.mp4

Video showing attachment of the level cover can be viewed here: Lever cover.mp4

Video showing the removal technique for the arm supports can be viewed here: Removal of arm support.mp4

The benefit

These modifications have allowed the client to shower with a greatly reduced chance of bruising or even more serious injury. Previously they would often shower at school using a shower trolly for safety but now they are able to shower in their family home without compromising safety. The client’s mother seemed delighted when I showed the modified chair to them.

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