Less Design is More Design

Meeting with my Advisor: PT

I brought my current 3D prints to show PT in order to look at them with her. Instead of looking at them from the perspective of a designer, it really helped to hear from a physical therapist how she thought the forms might be able to help children with abnormal muscle tone.

In the case of adding a slightly curved area in which the child might be able to sit on, PT suggested that I focus on creating a curve that will subtly add leg support when the child is sitting. By creating a downward slope in the angle of the sitting curve, it increases the amount of flexion in the hip, reducing the potential for the child to slide out of the chair. This is a safety concern since they sometimes lack the control required to hold their body upright on their own. The quick diagram below might make it easier to understand the difference between the two positions:


However, once the child is able to sit in that on their own, they will not necessarily need that section of the design anymore because they will be able to move. This seating position restricts other movements so if it used in the final design, adjustments will be required. The downward angled slope in the seat base might not need to be as drastic nor would the seating curve need to come up very high off the ground. A lower seating area would allow the child to keep their feet touching the floor underneath. This design aspect will need to be used for other activities as well since limiting parts of the form to such a specific function might make using the design at home harder for both the parent and child.

PT told me that babies usually curl up their legs instead of stretching them outright. In order to allow them to sit with their legs upward, the sitting curve must be wide enough to give them the knee room required to do so. If a physical therapist is working with the child in a home environment, the parent might remove a seat cushion from their couch, sit the child in the corner, and put a cushion in front of them between their legs in order to add something to support them from falling forward.

This last bit of information gave me the idea to create a sitting curve wide enough for the child to sit on with their legs comfortably positioned outward. There would be a structure in the middle sticking upright for the child to use to lean on for added support, such as this diagram indicates:

SittingSupportAfter explaining this new idea to PT, she gave me some incredibly useful advice in which she started off by saying that “at the end of the day, parents should be the toy of the child.” By not adding support pieces, it leaves more room for the parent to help the child. The parent is able to come in and give both mental and physical support to their child during play as opposed to the design doing all of the work itself. It enhances their interaction instead of assuming that the child is able to use the toy on their own. As time passes and the child becomes more independent, the parent being there is no longer a ‘need’ as much as a ‘want’. The parent is able to use the design with their child, thus increasing their quality time together. In the words of PT, “the time you give to your child gives back way beyond your imagination as they get older.”

Less design is more design. Essentially, leaving more room for the parent to help the child allows for an overall greater parent/child interaction during playtime.


3 thoughts on “Less Design is More Design

  1. Wow. My husband and I are so impressed with your work/thought process, but even more so, I’m almost in tears with all the energy I can tell you’re putting into these solutions. As a parent of a toddler who has had significant challenges with hypotonia (he has come far, though!) I can tell you firsthand how exciting it is to see innovation in this field. For instance, on this solution in particular, there are no straps. I cannot tell you how many products have been brought into our lives for us to use as parents (from providers) and they were designed around one chief concept: bracing him in place with unforgiving straps and massive Velcro straps. I’ve watched his body not be strong enough and collapse his full weight against the straps, leaving sore welts and rashes. Some experiences were heart-wrenching. We’d look at other products and even order them (like the Wingbo) only to discover they were on backorder for six months. A six month window is a LONG time in the world of a developing infant! Thank you for putting your gifts to work in an area that will help so many families.

    PS: One last note, and then I’m done. For a child to look forward (and not at the ceiling or floor) is HUGE. But, you have to be able to sit to do that. To look other playing children in the eye (or close to it) is a major self-esteem builder. Thanks so much again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your support! I have been working extremely hard on this and cannot wait to continue moving forward on the advancements. I have also seen that many products create restraint and I would love to break away from that by designing something that promotes movement, regardless if those movements are incredibly subtle during the beginning stages.

      I would love to email you to gain some more insight on the experiences you and your child have both been through throughout the development process, so my email address is lrb2045@rit.edu if you have the time at any point in the near future. Again, your comment is incredibly reassuring that my design up until this point has been worth all of the effort I have put into it.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s