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3D printing and user-centred design help to develop an assistive device for Parkinson patients

Brazilian researchers explored the capabilities of 3d printing and user-centred design to improve the development of medical assistive devices.

The user-centred design describes an user-based approach of product development where the target group of the product, in this case, a Parkinson patient, is involved in an early stage of product development. 3D printing’s capability to create parts and prototypes is a perfect combination of this approach.

The researchers explored the design of a medical eating device for patients with Parkinson’s and other diseases with hand tremors symptoms. They involved a 60-year-old Parkinson patient and established a communication channel to the design team. Together, they improved the conceptual design, the manufacturing and the final refinement which resulted in the development of an affordable eating tool that met all of the patient’s requirements and offers customization possibilities for other patients.

“The use of 3D printing for the generation of mock-ups and prototypes allowed better visualization of the proposed technical solutions, facilitating the process of refining the product concept. It also allowed for greater and more effective participation of the stakeholders in the design process through the interaction and testing with the prototypes, significantly collaborating for a user-centred design approach,” stated one researcher.

The team published their findings under the title ‘User-centered design of a customized assistive device to support feeding‘.