About the Project
Athletes with low hand functionality struggle to maintain grip on rackets or similar sports equipment. They require an assistive device to maintain grip strength, duration, and profile.
In particular, quadriplegic tennis players augment their grip with hockey tape. This is costly, painful, time consuming, and may require assistance to apply. Our team focused on the need for a solution to maintain hand grip on rackets and alike equipment in sports for individuals with impaired hand grip.
We developed a customizable, molded mitten. It combines hard plastic and softer fabric pieces to ensure a secure and repeatable grip while minimizing pressure and maximizing comfort. Some key features of the design are:
• Hard pieces are easier for people with impaired hand function to maneuver, since it gives them something sturdy to push against. This also helps distribute the load placed on the glove by the elastic straps.
• A custom fit is created through moldable thermoplastic beads inside the glove; this creates a strong and repeatable grip for the user that is tailored specifically to the contours of his/her hand for maximal comfort.
• The mitt design allows for users with low hand functionality to apply the device with ease when compared to gloves with individual fingers. The finger compartment also prevents the fingers from slipping out of the device, decreasing the risk of injury.
• Velcro on elastic straps is used to allow for ease of removal of the mitten.
• Large plastic D-rings were added to the two straps to make them easier to pull on for someone with impaired hand function.
Wheelchair tennis is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, and our device has the potential to encourage and increase participation among people with limited hand function.
According to our RHI consumer group, the vast majority of professional-level wheelchair tennis athletes adopt the sport after their spinal cord injury, so the potential for adoption is high.
Rob Shaw, a member of our consumer engagement group and a world-ranked quadriplegic tennis athlete, provided us with the following comment on the project:
“The potential impact of this project goes far beyond the practical objective of increasing participation in tennis and other racket sports for people with impaired hand function.
Increasing recreational participation for people with disabilities has a positive, cascading effect on self-efficacy, self-worth, socialization, independence, and quality of life. The ability to engage with your friends, family, colleagues, and children in a recreational capacity is something many individuals with impaired hand function are not able to do.
Of course the grip aid will allow international athletes like myself to compete and train at the highest possible level but truthfully, what excites me even more, is the impact this grip aid will have in helping to reduce barriers that prevent people from experiencing the benefits of having a healthy active lifestyle.”
Reflections on the EiS Program
EiS emphasized user engagement at all steps of the design process, which helped us build a strong relationship with our partners at RHI. These partners eagerly helped us iterate the design quickly with their invaluable feedback. EiS has also continued to support us even after the course ended – they truly care about the success of the device.
• Carly Jones
• Jeanie Malone
• Vinny Randhawa
• Taylor Molde