Master Graduation Project, Spring 2022
Prosthesis Cover for Football
Positive design for active child amputees
THESIS, POSITIVE DESIGN
This project was graded with a 9.5/10 and will be featured in the April 2023 edition of Dutch Journal of Positive Psychology in a review written by Pieter Desmet.
As part of my Master's thesis at Delft University of Technology, I focused on developing a design methodology for understanding the emotional needs of amputee children and creating a product that addresses those needs. The final product is a shin guard designed to boost the confidence and protect the legs of amputee children during sports activities. This product was selected based on its potential to address the emotional challenges faced by amputee children, such as feelings of stigmatization and low self-esteem, and to empower them participate more confidently in sports and other activities.
Preteen boys socialize primarily through contact sports, yet amputee preteens often feel insecure on the soccer field. This is because they view their prostheses as not fit for exercise, even though they functionally are. The sports cover for soccer facilitates a mental shift in how children view their prostheses to boost their confidence. The action of putting the sports cover on signals to its wearer that the prosthesis has transitioned to its sports mode. In addition, the compliant mid layer provides protection for other players on the field by dampening oncoming impact.
Snap on the soccer cover onto the prosthesis.
2. Buckle in the straps together on the back for added security
3. Ready to play
Through the various steps of the process, I gained several insights that helped to shape the methodology and product concept.
Utilizing activities in lieu of interviews to understand preteen needs
I employed positive design methods to understand the sources of unmet or unvoiced needs, priorities and preferences children have. As children differ from adults in their cognitive, emotional and language skills, I leveraged principles of design for children as well as psychological research into children’s development to develop my own methodology, a set of guidelines to communicate with preteens to uncover their motive hierarchies.
Analysis of products on the market was conducted through a lens of to what extent current prostheses fulfill fundamental psychological needs of preteens. This showed that two distinct categories of products exist for children: 'daily' prostheses that allow for flexibility in movement and "sports" prostheses that can handle a lot of force, but lack stability and comfort required for everyday use. Neither category offered any personalization, which is crucial for preteens' psychological wellbeing.
I summarized all insights found in the research stage based on where they came from and who they impact.
The research phase drove the construction of “moments”, analysis of current interactions the target group currently experiences in which design can provide value.
One of the scenarios is playing soccer with friends. I analyzed the current interactions the target group currently has on the soccer field and contrasted this to the desired alternative. The contextual, behavioral and functional allowances of this context guided ideation.
I then narrowed down the ideas based on feasibility and desirability for the end user, and selected the final product idea: a shin guard designed to boost the confidence and protect the legs of amputee children during sports activities.
Design consists of the overall form and visual style, backed by the engineering choices made to fulfill functional requirements uncovered in the research phase.
Literature review into child development and the insights from the child participant suggest that for the shin guard to be usable for preteens, it must fit their style. For styling the product, I made three collages that reflect the various visual aspects of the product, and ideated on the appearance of the shin cover using these as a reference. The final design decisions however were made by consulting children of the target age in an online survey.
Lifestyle collage expresses main ideas of preteen soccer: community, competition, style.
Emotive collage depicts how the user of the product should feel: confident and bold.
Memetic collage brings the imagery of the lifestyle and the intended embodied emotions to suggest material and design choices.
When donned on, as if plate armor, the prosthesis cover visually transforms the prosthesis. The auditory feedback of the snapping cover and buckle provides confidence that the cover is attached properly. A compliant mid-layer dampens oncoming impact.
Based on this concept, I developed the style of the cover by working on forms of a cutout window, the style of the straps as well as the overall shape of the cover.
FUNCTIONALITY & CONSTRUCTION
Based on technology research and ideation, I generated possible design opportunities that can answer to various aspects of the concept. Combining solutions for different parts of the design, I generated three concepts of varying complexities. I assessed the feasibility of implementing various technologies in the cover as a compliant mid layer through prototyping.
A morphology study explores solutions for different features of the product, 3D printed compliant structures and 4D printing trial on flexible fabric