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Special Gloves Help Understanding the Effects of Arthritis

Special Gloves Help Understanding the Effects of Arthritis

Photo: Arthritis simulation gloves 

A pair of arthritis simulation gloves, which reproduce the reduction in functional capacity experienced by persons with arthritis, helps better understand how arthritis affects a person's ability to grasp, pinch, turn, lift and twist objects.

"A product manager or designer can put these gloves on and attempt to open their company's products or packaging," explained principal research scientist Brad Fain at Georgia Tech Research Institute’s (GTRI). "If they are unable to open a product or package, then chances are high that people with moderate to severe symptoms of arthritis will also have difficulty opening it."

The gloves can be used with a variety of consumer products, including medicine bottles, beverage containers, office supplies, medical devices, vehicles, cell phones and many other consumer products. They can also be used with many different types of packaging, including clamshell packages, cardboard boxes, cereal containers and foil packages.

The gloves were designed to reduce a wearer's functional ability to grasp something and either pull or rotate it by 33-50 percent. They also stiffen an individual's finger joints and restrict the range of motion of his or her fingers. To create the finger stiffness and reduced finger strength experienced by individuals with arthritis, the gloves were designed with metal wires between layers of neoprene and other fabrics.

In addition to identifying ease of use issues with products, the gloves are also intended to raise awareness about issues faced by people with disabilities and to support programs focused on ease of use in design. Currently, the Arthritis Foundation in the United States and Arthritis Australia are using the gloves for such educational purposes.

In the future, many baby boomers will likely demand the same access to products that they currently have – even as their functional abilities decline.

"These older individuals will attribute any inability to open or use a product with deficiencies in the product itself," added Fain. "That message or perception can be detrimental to companies because they want to avoid being associated with a product that's difficult to use. The arthritis simulation gloves can help companies avoid these design mistakes."

REHACARE.de; Source: Georgia Institute of Technology Research News

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