NWU students develop hoisting device for quadriplegics
POTCHEFSTROOM – The ingenuity of Mechanical Engineering students from the Potchefstroom Campus of the North-West University over the past seven years will considerably ease the task of nursing staff at Witrand Hospital when they bath quadriplegics.
According to Dr Ebrahim Sooliman, Chief Executive Officer of Witrand Hospital, the device will be used primarily for the rehabilitation of quadriplegics. Therapy has become very dynamic and the ideal is to rehabilitate disabled people to such an extent that they can play a meaningful role in society again.
According to Mr Johan Roberts, senior lecturer in mechanical engineering, the project was ideal for training purposes, with the added bonus that it also meets a user/consumer need of the community. Nursing staff at Witrand Hospital who care for seriously disabled people will especially benefit from the hoisting device, as it will help prevent back injuries when they lift disabled people in and out of a bath.
The quadrilift was designed in cooperation with occupational therapists, physiotherapists and nurses as part of the students’ engineering training to integrate theoretical principles and subject knowledge of system and mechanical design. Aspects such as maintenance, affordability, logistical support, ergonomics and manufacturability were also taken into account.
A team of students, JP Steyl, Henry Townsend, Thys Uys, Le Roux van den Berg, Jaco Vermaak, CJ Vos, Justin Willemse and Jaco Wood presented the concept that, according to Witrand’s experts, would best meet their requirements. Lucas Pitso designed the main part of the prototype, built it and did the preliminary testing . During the following year, Gideon Jacobs developed the rest, improved the weaker points of the existing apparatus and tested the entire system. Mr Thabo Diobe, a technician at the faculty, assisted the students with the construction.
The quadrilift meets the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS)’s requirement that equipment with a voltage of less than 12 V may be installed directly above a bath. The hoisting device can handle a mass of up to 120 kg, has a reach of more than 1,6 m and can rotate 190°.
The quadrilift was demonstrated to staff at Witrand Hospital with the official presentation. Here are Messrs Johan Roberts, senior lecturer in mechanical engineering, and Thabo Diobae, technician at the School of Mechanical Engineering, Ms Catherine Motitimi, nurse, Dr Ebrahim Sooliman, Witrand Chief Executive Officer, and Ms Annatjie du Bruin, Witrand Nursing Manager.