Student Designs Special Pot Handles For Those With Arthritis
Even though Ching-Hao Hsu, a graduate student at Australia's Queensland University of Technology, is focused on a career as a lighting designer, he has shown a unique interest in and talent for developing assistive tools for persons with disabilities. On the first short list of the James Dyson sponsored Australian Design Awards, the Arthritis Handle was clearly developed after significant research.
In fact, Hsu's research was specifically about rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which can severely limit use of the hands, a definite impediment in the kitchen. Hsu's unique understanding of this impediment came through several interviews and observations of persons with RA, specifically as to how they tried to adapt to the difficulty of lifting a full pot or pan from the stove.
Because of weakness in their hands, he found that RA sufferers tend to lift kitchen tools with their forearms. "If a saucepan only had one handle," Hsu explained, "most people (would) put a towel over their other forearm to grasp the opposite side of the pot, but this was a slippery and dangerous way of lifting, exposing the person to the risk of burns.
That's why Hsu's Arthritis Handle has ridges that grasps the rims of a pot. Though not a handle in the traditional sense, because it does not need to be held by a hand, the Arthritis Handle is supported by the user's wrist which is stronger than the hand.
These Arthritis Handles look very ergonomic. In fact, the design is so balanced, the Handles don't seem to place their weight on any one area of the hand/wrist anatomy. Another special feature is the thermoplastic elastomer used on the inside of the handle, which can withstand heat up to 200°C/392°F.
In case you can't picture just how these kitchen tools work, here's a short video that demonstrates them...
Notification of finalists for the 2011 Australian Design Award will be in late April and the winner named in late July.
source: Australian Design Award/James Dyson Award via Queensland University of Technology news release.
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