Geriatric Balance Floor
Geriatric falling is a significant risk to the health and well being of seniors. Prolonged hospital stays after hip fractures leave them vulnerable to infection and illness. Psychologically post-fall factors and symptoms also increases the risk of a second fall or a degradation of overall health. These falls are largely preventable with proper exercising and training. I aimed to create a floor system that allowed users to easily opt in to strength training of the legs.
Taking cues from exercise equipment such as the bosu-ball, I began to think of ways to challenge and build balance muscles for a single user. Safety and ease of use was the top priority.
By hacksawing tennis balls in half I was able to create a "bosu-ball" network, with a semi-firm carpet overlay. The slight swivel caused by the network ideally challenges the balance muscles thereby increasing strength.
I aimed to create an experience for elderly people that imbued them with a sense of agency. Rather than intimidating exercise equipment, the balance floor would be installed in hallways and cafeterias of assisted living homes. Strengthening would be easy to opt in or out of. Lastly, walk ways would include visual cues to provide sight lines and brushed chrome handles to assist balance and signal the change in flooring.
Initial research into balance disorders both emotional and physiological
It was important to understand balance in all of its complexity. I hoped to find design insights within the details of the neuropsychology of imbalance.
Once I settled on an initial concept I explored as many forms as I could, it was important to sketch in 3D to understand how users would approach the system.
Much like the floor, the handle needed to be explored. Through ping-balls, saran wrap, clay and other material explorations I narrowed in on the final concept