Linc is an adaptive baby stroller that can be attached to a wheelchair and enables safe and convenient transport of infants for parents who use wheelchairs.
It is inconvenient for parents in wheelchairs to bring infants outside by themselves due to the difficulty of simultaneously controlling the movement of a baby stroller and a wheelchair.
A mounting bracket allows temporary yet secure attachment of the stroller. The attachment can rotate enough to allow the stroller and wheelchair to pass over bumps on the road. Users can fold and unfold the stroller and adjust the baby seat angle from a seated position in the wheelchair. With the use of transparent fabric for the baby seat, the parent can see her path clearly. Operating Linc requires minimum effort from the user, and all adjustments can be done from a seated position in the chair.
Linc allows babies to sit as close as possible to the parent, allowing them to feel more secure. Linc provides the opportunity for parents in wheelchairs to spend more time with their kids. It helps strengthen their relationship with their children, beneficial for emotional adjustment. Linc can help its users establish confidence and independence by providing opportunities to go out, socialize with people and bond with their children, instead of feeling a need to be helped.
Our challenge was to design for people with disabilities, to identify problems they are facing in daily life and use 3D prototyping to build, test and deploy solutions. We had group interviews with several volunteers/mentors/patients at a local rehabilitation hospital. The majority of our interviewees were wheelchair users who all shared similar inconveniences in life. Karla was one of our key contributors, who told us the story of her raising two kids sitting in the wheelchair. She talked about how difficult it was for her to bring the kids outside when they were small. She had to push the baby stroller with one hand and move the wheelchair with the other. In order to better understand her situation, we tried using wheelchair ourselves and received professional training and guidance from the occupational therapist at the rehab hospital.
There are very few stroller solutions for wheelchair-bound parents. Most have been gerry-rigged by the wheelchair owners out of parts meant for some other purpose. One example is a sort of side-car made to attach to a baby stroller that some have altered to attach to the side of the wheelchair. It makes operating the wheelchair difficult, bruising knuckles on the side where the side-car is attached. Also, the whole assembly is wide and limits the types of pathways that can be travelled. Some wheelchair users have cobbled together wheelchair front-wheel accessories with bicycle child seats, and others have had custom stroller attachments made. These options require special knowledge to construct, and are expensive. We were convinced there is a need for a ready-to-use, purpose-built stroller designed for wheelchair users. We made our first full scale mock-up baby stroller and tested it sitting in a wheelchair to discover major problems. We then made two full scale mock-up and dozens of small models to find problems and opportunities for improvement. We got feedback from our target customer and professionals during the design process, and then used their comments to change and improve our design. We made the final prototype using aluminum extrusions for the main frame. We made 3D-printed parts as connectors. In our final design, the attachment between the baby stroller and wheelchair allows temporary yet secure attachment of the stroller by snapping into a mounting bracket. The attachment can rotate in a specific angle range around the axis of that connection, allowing it to pass over bumps on the road while not moving from side to side or up and down. Operating Linc requires minimum effort from the user, and all of these functions can be done without changing the seated position in the wheelchair.
As society pays more attention to people with disabilities, the concept of universal design has greater importance to many first tier companies. Medical devices are gradually being adapted to become lifestyle products. An innovation like Linc can call on more brands and manufacturers to pay attention to the needs of parents in wheelchairs who are often neglected. A product that helps parents with disabilities to be more independent would definitely be welcome. Linc will show that the medical equipment manufacturer is serious about their social responsibilities.