Thursday 7 July 2016

University of Northampton student Marija Reis used her experience of working in a care home to design and produce a sleek and modern mobility aid, which will be on display at the New Designers exhibition in London this week.

The third year BSc Product Design student, who is about to graduate this summer, wanted to create something that people with mobility issues would want to use and not shy away from, especially as her research showed  there is a certain stigma attached with traditional walking aids. The RoadRoamer has multiple functions so it can be used as a zimmer frame, a rollator and can also be turned into a wheelchair.

She said: “After talking to one of the physiotherapists in the care home where I work, my main aim was to design something that people wanted to use in public, as a zimmer frame can often make a person feel old and frail. The RoadRoamer is a modular product so it can be adapted for different people depending on their needs.  I spoke to several people with mobility issues so I had a good understanding of what they wanted in a mobility aid.”

Throughout her final year, Marija attended several physiotherapy conferences and collected pieces of information to help guide her with her design ideas. She based her research on people suffering from Parkinson’s Disease as the stages of mobility tend to deteriorate over time and she wanted to create something that would aid someone depending on their individual needs.

She said: “The great thing about the RoadRoamer is that it is easily adaptable. For example, it can be used as a walking aid, but there is also the option to turn it into wheelchair as you can add a seat in or a basket so it’s ideal for shopping trips too. I wanted to make it as flexible as possible for people who are able to walk some distances but may tire towards the end.”

Steve McGonigal, Senior Lecturer in Product Design at the University of Northampton, commented: “It is essential in product design to really understand the needs of the customer and Maria undertook a lot of research to determine this. As she already works in a care home, she was able to appreciate the true requirements of what her product needed to achieve and as a result, she created something innovative because she was able to understand her customers’ needs.

“We’re very excited to be taking part in New Designers this year and it’s a great opportunity for our students to be able to see where they fit with other universities within the sector. There is also the opportunity for our students to engage with the design industry and potentially showcase their work and demonstrate their abilities to a range of employers and companies.”

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