Dear members, I have posted before regarding an engineering design project that I am a part of, wishing to design something specifically to aid people with MS; we have narrowed the scope down and wish to design a better walking stick / mobility device specific to MS needs and suitable particularly for young people 20-50yrs. To that end, we need some more information on exactly what might help. Please, if any of you have a few spare minutes, assist us by answering as many, or as few, of these questions as possible:
1. Do you tend to use a walking stick for support or balance or a mixture of both? (does one dominate?) Does this change as fatigue increases (short term) or as your symptoms worsen (long term)?
2. Would you benefit from any of these (and why, if you wish):
a. A self-standing stick – so it can rest upright by itself when you put it down
b. A temperature alarm / sensor – giving a simple notification if room temperature has increased / decreased to the extent that it might affect symptoms e.g. accelerating fatigue
c. Waterproofing – so the stick can be used in the shower or taken swimming
d. A pedometer / fatigue alarm – set by the user to the average number of steps before fatigue, this would provide a way of monitoring how much you are exerting yourself and when rests might be necessary
e. An integrated grabber – used to pick up dropped items without bending over, it would be part of the walking stick, but possibly removable, and discreetly contained
3. What problems do you experience with current walking sticks? (handles, stability, storage, use, deployment, embarrassment etc.)
4. Have you tried using sticks with a steadying base / three-pronged base? What are the advantages disadvantages over traditional sticks?
5. Are you more comfortable with a discreet non-medical-looking device or a unique, stylish, coloured device?
6. Would a telescoping stick be easier / more useful than a folding elasticated stick?
7. How difficult is it to pick up dropped items e.g. keys? Do you have to put down the stick?
8. Is a horizontal handle most useful, or might a vertical handle, such as a staff, help more?
Please don’t feel restricted to these questions: any help you can offer is very gratefully received, thank you.