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Lift sticks

pneumatically powered telescopic crutches to help elevate you when your joints don't want to
 
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My father-in-law-to-be has arthritis, among other mobility-restraining ailments. He had a replacement hip joint fitted a few years ago, which has not lasted as long as they are expected to. When artificial hip joints fail, much like your original ones, the joint apparently feels slushy, and you have less control over it; there's also the possibility of trapped nerves and grinding down of ligaments and all that stuff from anatomy that I didn't pay attention to... the result is not only a lack of personal mobility, but a loss of self-esteem and in a worse case, depression. Bob (my f-i-l-t-b) is a great chap, quite crumbly but a good laugh, and the sight of him whimpering in pain and not being able to move five paces without stopping and regaining composure isn't nice.

So the love-of-my-life and I were thinking about gadgets we could build (or at least design) to help his mobility. Number one problem (since the f-i-l-t-b has now broken his femur at the top where the artificial joint is attached) is the action of getting into and out of chairs. At the moment this takes at least a full minute rather than seconds. L-o-m-l suggested a complex series of pulley systems spanning the entire house, and we have so far installed small stepladders and spare shelf units beside chairs so that f-i-l-t-b can 'climb' with his hands and raise his body to a standing position. Both of these options involve a lot of things spread around the house, and will narrow down the choice of locations where one can sit with assistance.

What we think would be the right solution would be a pair of hollow aluminium walking sticks (i.e. minimal hardware, maximum scope for sitting locations); these sticks should be the kind with tripod feet (for stability). The novel part of this idea is that there would be some pumping mechanism attached to the telescopically-sectioned sticks, like a footpump for an airbed, but operated with light hand strength. This would build up pressure (I said hydraulic in the title but I don't know the equivalent word for air) which should then be slowly released (and paused) by a trigger button system in the handles, assisting f-i-l-t-b as he gets out of the chair. Lowering himself into the chair wouldn't need the pressure mechanism but just a controlled slide of the telescopic sections of the sticks. The elevation/subsidence speed of the two sticks should probably be linked to stop the user tilting and potentially putting too much strain on one side of the body or one leg, but I can't identify a minimal-technology way to do that.

Original title: Hydraulic telescopic crutches.
Thanks for the positives, people!
badgers, Apr 07 2003

Telescopic Crutches http://www.fetterma...hescanes/klick.html
I don’t think these can operate as a ‘lifting’ mechanism. I’m thinking diaphragm pumps might do the trick. Congrats on your engagement! [Shz, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

from the same site... http://www.fetterma...ssories/uplift.html
a hydraulically powered addition to the seat - same kind of idea but you either need to carry it around with you or have one for every chair, and at $165...? [badgers, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

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       excellent - I could do with something similar for my d-o-15-y-w-i-m-b-f.
po, Apr 07 2003
  

       go on... (I explained my f-i-l-t-b and l-o-m-l, couldn't you?!)
badgers, Apr 07 2003
  

       quite seriously - my dog of 15 years who is my best friend.   

       She is the mother of *our puppy* who is 14 now. She is almost blind and so stiff she is afraid of going down the stairs, but she is gutsy enough to do it with encouragement.
po, Apr 07 2003
  

       without reverting to a clichéd joke about old dogs and new tricks, since old dogs are quite the loveliest slow mad things I know, I'd have a whole lot of respect if you could train d-o-15-y-w-i-m-b-f to successfully understand and operate the trigger mechanism!
badgers, Apr 07 2003
  

       funnily enough, I have been trying to think of a real and hb answer to her problem. either some sort of chair lift or one of those things that soldiers cross rivers with (she would need to be in bag of sorts) or even a plain children's slide but I hope the exercise of going up and down the stairs is good for her. she forgets the problem of going down and everytime I come upstairs she follows me.   

       off topic - this reminds me of something [phoenix] once said about - what goes down, must go up!
po, Apr 07 2003
  

       I think the two words you're looking for are "pneumatic" and "croissant".
supercat, Apr 07 2003
  

       There are numerous chairs out there with lifting and lowering mechanisms inside, but that only provides a single-seat solution. Would those little silver CO2 cartridges provide enough power for these "Lift-Sticks"? If so, you could fit a trigger-style handle accessible to the index finger to activate the cartridge for lifting and have a simple button handy to the thumb to release gas (from the Lift Stick, not the f-i-l-t-b) to allow a gentle lowering action. To synchronize the up and down action between the left and right sticks might require something like a radio transceiver which relays the command from either the trigger for lifting or the button for lowering.   

       Oh, yeah, feel free to use the name Lift Sticks. I kinda like it, but consider it a wedding gift.
Canuck, Apr 08 2003
  

       You could pump up the pressure reservoir by the compression of the sticks whilst in use walking about. Each step would pump a little into a cylinder housed within the crutches.
oneoffdave, Apr 08 2003
  

       //little silver CO2 cartridges//   

       I love it, [Canuck]! But you've got to incorporate a unidirectional viscosity damper*, unless you want to literally poke somebody's eye out.   

       *The problem is to resist explosive extension speed, but allow easy collapse. MY sub-solution: A tube is filled with oil. One end of the extension is connected to a long rod with a perforated plunger on one end. Extension is slowed by the viscous oil oozing through the holes. To collapse the stick, a one-way bypass value opens to let oil flow through and the unit collapses with little effort.
FloridaManatee, Apr 08 2003
  

       Another approach, instead of dealing with leaky pneumatics or messy hydraulics, might be to consider the use of a battery-driven worm gear. The easiest way to picture this might be to imagine using a standard rechargeable cordless Screwdriver as the grip for your crutch. Outfit it with a twofoot long fine thread 1/2inch worm rod. This fine thread worm rod will travel up and down inside the main crutch foot shaft. The trigger on the Screwdriver will control the speed of extension or collapse. The Reversing Switch will control the direction. An extending armature may be added to the heel of the Scrwdriver's grip if underarm support is required or desired. I think you'll find this to be fairly easy to construct with common materials and even reliable.
jurist, Apr 09 2003
  

       lovely +
-alx, Apr 09 2003
  

       wow - I really like that development, jurist. I'm only a little worried about the noise level; we could damp it with some kind of padding but then would the sticks be too heavy? The bending-knee crutches, thank you Basie, could be combined with the screw motor being the vertical part of the triangle - would add stability to the design. Part of the idea for the sticks came from the pneumatic jack that the roadside rescue man used when chaning my wheel on the motorway last week (see 'intelligent road signs' for the story), but that required a turning handle. So it's obvious we need a mechanism with torque as the strongest and best controlled force to extend these sticks. I forgot to mention that the three/four foot stability for the base of the sticks arises because using a zimmer frame is out of the question (even a neat telescopic one) since the connotations of crinkly old dears shuffling round a residential home are too negative. Bob is only 65, so dignity is a big factor.
badgers, Apr 09 2003
  


 

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