Honors Undergraduate Research Journal


The goal of this project, which was presented to the team by Kevin Maher (President of Advanced Therapeutic devices), was to develop a product prototype for safe, vestibular stimulation for children with developmental disabilities. Vestibular stimulation is a form of therapy that increases muscle coordination. It works by stimulating the canals and sacs within the inner ear that detect accelerations. The project targeted children from ages two to seven years old, under 48 inches tall, and less than 100 lbs. The production device also sought to differ from stimulation devices found in hospitals in a few respects: it would cost under $5000, reside in a patient’s home, be hand-powered, and be controlled by an average person. The final device needed to support a 200 lb. load at the edge of the structure and adjust for the center of gravities for the range of children.

After sessions of brainstorming, the team produced three workable layouts, only one was adequate. The final setup had a structure of ¼ in. aluminum structural pipe similar to a football field goal. This structure mounted on a single bearing housing and steel shaft. The final design had two bars to mount weights in order to adjust the center of gravity. The prototype, however, used a swinging bar, lock, and a sliding weight. The final prototype had an adjustable footrest and a five-point restraint harness. The final cost and weight was $1700 and no more than 500 lb. The design met all of the requirements and had adequate safety for any child’s needs, but the team thought the design needed significant changes before it became a final product.