Ataxia UK
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Research Help With Mobility Design Project

Hi !

I am a student product designer and I am currently starting a project to help improve mobility for elderly people.

I am looking to find out about elderly people that have mobility aids and how they think the product is failing. E.g My rollator is hard to turn.

Or if anyone has an mobility problems, in general, that they or a person they know faces, on a daily basis and wish there was a solution to it, then it would be great to hear about them.

Thanks :)

12 Replies

People with Ataxia may not be Elderly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Hello there

Ataxia has very similar mobility problems to elderly people and I have been lucky and found a few solutions (with help on various forums). I would be very happy to share what I have discovered and hopefully it will help.

I have to use a walker now, instead of sticks, but spend a lot of time outside in the summer. We have a gravel drive and small wheels are a nightmare (also long grass). I bought a walker with big wheels, but it still struggles. When I am just going down to my workshop (I make ceramics) I tend to use my wheelchair (which has bigger wheels) as a walker on the gravel.

It might just be the particular models I have, (and my daughter has a little car) but she hates me taking my walker, which does not fold-up very much. She prefers to have the wheelchair, which I use as a walker. It is good because I can keep in narrow and not fully open it so get though small gaps and up steps.

When I am in the wheelchair, road curbs and into shops can have small raises. If I am with my daughter,she is not strong enough to tilt the chair and so we regularly go backwards (bigger wheels first, which really helps).

I love walking in the fields and was trying to find an all terrain walker so I posted a discussion on LWA site.

I now have a wonderful adapted Baby Jogger. I was not sure which model to use and Baby Jogger were brilliant helping decide. I had several emails with a lovely technical guy there and explained what I wanted to do. They do not make a 20" wheel any more so he recommended which old model on Ebay to get (so they made no money from the sale). I found one and took everything off and weighted the front. My kids made a funny video of how to make a clay leaf, for a local school, the jogger is in the first 20 seconds, so you do not have to suffer it all!

You will wish that you had not asked, but I hope some helps. Good luck.


Thanks very much for the comment, it will definitely help. I love that you created your own walker as well.

P.S I watched the whole video, it was great :-)


Good luck : )


Like Nigel, I was instantly irritated by quote 'help elderly people with mobility

problems. Obviously she intends to encompass all who have difficulties with

mobility. But it's surprising how much attention is actually focused purely on

the elderly in this respect, apparently mobility simply isn't seen as an issue

until anybody reaches a certain age, whatever that is


Well, I had more to say but it got cut off!!

So, to continue....

On YouTube I found a couple of interesting videos, one relating to the post in question.

(1) 'The stair climbing walker' by Matthew Shell

a group project by college students, it worked!

(2). In yesterday's Guardian - Zoella, raising awareness of anxiety and panic attacks.

I could relate to a lot of what she said, having experienced this with SCA.

She's a young girl reaching out with compassion and common sense.


Sorry if I offended with the post, my project is based around an elderly user group, but as you stated, I would like to create something that is inclusive to all. Thanks for the helpful links !


Best wishes and good luck with your project


I am 60 years young and was diagnosed with ataxia eleven years ago, although I had very small symptoms starting about eight years before diagnosis. My ataxia affects my gait /balance, dexterity, speech, swallowing and vision. Up until about four years ago I was able to walk unaided. Then I took a bad fall, really hurting my back. Therefore, I started using a cane when I leave my home, but am able to walk, very carefully, in my home without it. I started using a quad cane a little over a year now, as it stands on it's own, which is helpful. Plus it makes me feel more confident and secure. I've also used two trekking poles for pleasure walking. Recently, I bought an Access Active Rollator, for pleasure walking, as it has two large wheels in the front and two smaller ones in the back. It is easy to use. adjust, and has a seat which lifts up with a basket to put things in. It also folds up easily so I can out it in the back of my SUV. It rolls over gravel and grass easily, although I usually walk on paved trails. It's easier for me to walk with my rollator over a cane, as it affords me more security (holding onto something with two hands rather then one). One thing I wish for is a quad cane with a smaller metal base, that still stands on it's own. I've yet to find one online...,;o)


Thanks very much for you reply, its great to hear personal stories to help with my research.


I work for a charity in Somerset which has a Men's Shed group and we have just had a request from someone who needs help. It isn't so much the mobility aids. What he wants is a cabinet he can use whilst sitting in a motorised riser/recliner chair. He's been searching for something for ages and has given up so he is seeking someone who might be able to design and build him one. Unfortunately we are unable to help him but I'm sure he isn't the only one seeking something like this.


Hi NDesign MY husband finds his rollator wiggles all over the place and is also difficult to fold into the boot of a small car - an easier and neater folding mechanism would make life so much easier. Like wise with scooters - he has a Luggie which folds down to a reasonable size but is way too heavy to lift - there must be a solution ! There are so many mobility aids which are just plain ugly (look at riser chairs for example) and it would be great to be able to find one which is modern and classy not frumpy green brocade, ugh! There are lots of younger people, and older ones, who would prefer their wheelchairs, rollators etc to be a bit funky and different from the bog standard NHS variety. Rollators never seem to have a place to hold a stick either! Shall I shut up now?!


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