Rehabilitation patients benefit from inventions by SUTD students

Singapore University of Technology and Design students Lu Wan Yun and Ivan Tang demonstrate the Maeum, a redesigned wheelchair stabiliser. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - 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.

The bulbs and pipes are part of a set of interactive objects collectively known as the Joymaker, which simulates 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.

The Joymaker is one of five projects by final-year students of Singapore University of Technology and Design's (SUTD) Global Health Technologies (GHT) course. The projects were showcased at the hospital on Wednesday (June 26).

During the 14-week course which ended in April, the group of 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 SACH therapy teams and patients. The products have since been adopted by the hospital for patients' use.

Mr Dave Leong, an occupational therapist at SACH, said that the products have helped save time for therapists as they are easy to use. As for the Joymaker, "the patients can relate it to their home environment", he added.

SUTD's collaboration with the hospital, which began in 2017, gives students in the course the opportunity to explore the gaps in healthcare provision, and to provide practical solutions to patient care concerns that could be immediately used in hospitals.

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

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 elderly care facility," she said.

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

The students' product is more cost-effective and versatile than the one originally used by SACH. Using handlebar tape sourced from local bicycle shops, the new stabiliser costs $50 less to make than the original, and does not have to be replaced as frequently.

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