Student projects help plug gaps in healthcare

Singapore University of Technology and Design students Vanessa Poh, 21, and Clement Chen, 27, with their Joymaker project.
Singapore University of Technology and Design students Vanessa Poh, 21, and Clement Chen, 27, with their Joymaker project.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Patients looking to strengthen their gross and fine motor skills at St Andrew's Community Hospital (SACH) can now do so by practising screwing in plastic light bulbs and fixing plastic pipes.

These are part of a set of interactive objects, collectively known as Joymaker, that simulate tasks that patients encounter in daily life.

Other objects include a drawer that patients can pull and push, and big plastic screws for them to simulate the closing and opening of water bottles and pill bottles.

Joymaker is one of five projects by final-year students of the Singapore University of Technology and Design's (SUTD) global health technologies course. The projects were showcased at the community hospital yesterday.

During the 14-week course, 17 students worked on products to help address challenges in rehabilitation faced by the SACH clinical team.

The result was the creation of equipment, learning tools and assistive devices that were well received by the therapy teams and patients.

Mr Dave Leong, an occupational therapist at SACH, said the products have helped therapists to save time as they are easy to use.


As for Joymaker, "the patients can relate it to their home environment", he said.

The collaboration, which began in 2017, gives students the opportunity to plug gaps in healthcare provision and provide solutions that could be immediately used in hospitals.

There are plans to reach out to local manufacturers to produce more of the students' products, said Professor Dawn Koh, senior lecturer of engineering product development at SUTD. "These projects have applications in every hospital and eldercare facility," she said.

Another project was Maeum, a redesigned wheelchair stabiliser - which is a metal structure with four legs attached to the back of a wheelchair to provide stability.

Maeum costs $50 less to make than the original stabiliser used by the hospital and does not have to be replaced as frequently.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 27, 2019, with the headline 'Student projects help plug gaps in healthcare'. Subscribe