VIDEO: Advanced wheelchair pommel design

Posted on May 15, 2017

  • Advanced Wheelchair Pommel - MECH462 Capstone Project

    Video Transcript:

    Hi my name is Curtis Lindsey.
    And my name is Heather Joannou.

    And we're both fourth year bio-mechanical engineering students at Queen's University.

    For our fourth-year capstone project, we developed a pommel for Advanced Mobility Systems, which is a wheelchair manufacturer in Kingston Ontario.

    So our device is a wheelchair accessory called a pommel. And what it does is it helps people who don't have control of their bodies sit in certain positions in the wheelchair.

    We started with their original pommel, which had no adjustability in the cushion, as well as didn't optimize comfort for the user. We modified their original design to be more adjustable and more comfortable for the user, as well as more functional.

    So we actually met with a resource centre named Ongwanada in Kingston, where we got to meet with an occupational therapist, and they tested the device on several different clients there. They had really positive reviews; they talked about how easy it was to use, and how the adjustability features that we added really made it more comfortable and helpful to all their clients.

    So one of the major problems that people were facing was that the cushion just came in one size. So with our new prototype we have two independent cushions that are adjusted with the use of an allen key. So the user, when they first get our pommel, they don't have to worry about ordering different size cushions based on their needs - they can fit it right with their device that they buy. There is adjustability in where along the thighs that you want to place the pommel. So this so this is just a huge thing for people with disabilities because often their legs aren't conformed to the straight femur that's normal. So this adds comfort for whether they're bow-legged or anything like that. And it can just comfortably sit against their femur.

    So we've had a couple other projects that we worked with clients, but not as closely as we have with this project. So this project we had a full year with the client - they helped us design and look at our design, and say, "No we don't really like that," or, "It would be easier to manufacture this." A struggle with that though is that it often got off our timeline because the company had big orders they had to fill and didn't have time to complete our prototype. But the professors are very adaptable and they gave us lots of time to adjust or design and our reports.

    So the course just gave us a chance to try out product development - really follow a device from the very beginning of the design to an actual prototype and testing, which was really cool to see it from beginning to end.

    I think that this was a really cool project because it drew from both of our bio-mechanical backgrounds, all the different courses that we've completed over our time here, but then put it into a real world experience, where we have an actual problem that we need to address and we have real clients that have deadlines and we work with closely.

Learn more about the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Queen's, MECH 462, and Advanced Mobility Systems.