|Student designers from left to right: Nathan Linville,|
Zachary Wilson, Connor Toone and Liz Housley
Students from USU's Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering department, UATP volunteer Mike Stokes and Intermountain Pediatric Rehabilitation physical therapist Shaun Dahle collaborated on the project. They showed it off during Senior Design Night at Utah State University.
Several versions of therapeutic trikes are on the market, but they are more expensive and less adjustable than the prototype created by the engineering students. The group consulted with Dahle and UATP volunteer Stokes as they crafted their design. "We've used every kind of trike, so we know [what works]," Dahle said.
"There is a need for families to have a lower-cost alternative to these special needs trikes," said Stokes. "The goal is that through the [UATP] lab, we'll rebuild these based on need. The students will be giving us a set of plans, they kept track of where they bought the parts. We will just build as many as there's a need for."
UATP, which is part of the Center for Persons with Disabilities, paid for materials used in developing the trike. The plan now is to use donated time, labor and equipment at UATP in Logan to construct additional trikes for families who pay for materials. "We're looking at families who cannot afford or do not have insurance, and we will build it... we can save them money," Stokes said.
The bike project is currently awaiting the university's approval before the design can be used off-campus.
The trike could benefit children who have not yet walked or crawled, Dahle said. "I've taken kids that you'd think would never ride a bike... This actually teaches kids how to reciprocate their legs." The act of pushing one pedal after the other is similar to the motion needed for walking or crawling, he said. "A lot of kids that don't do those things can ride this bike."
The trike can be made for $580 in material and parts (expertise and welding equipment not included). The plan would make the equipment available at 40 to 15 percent of the cost of therapeutic trikes that are currently on the market.
The students' design also includes some built-in, improved usability.
"We took cues from existing designs," said Nathan Linville, one of the project's team members. One feature their trike had that existing designs did not: a seat that could be adjusted up and down, forward and back. It also allows the child to power the bike by pushing the pedals, or to "freewheel" while the parents push. This would allow the parents to still push a child home if the child's legs became tired or stiff.
The students who worked on the project included Linville, Liz Housley, Connor Toone and Zachary Wilson.
|Project manager Derek Scott, volunteer Mike Stokes and the four students work on a version of the trike in the metal factory at Utah State University. Photo courtesy of Intermountain Healthcare.|