Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mother of Invention: Beach Walker

Okay, so here it is! Well, it's not technically ready yet. But here is the "prototype" of E's beach walker!



What I wanted was a walker-type contraption that Elena might be able to push on sand. MIGHT. Sand is THE MOST DIFFICULT solid surface to navigate, so this little experiment might very well end up in a big pile of FAIL.

Ideally I wanted a wheel like the Wheeleez wheel; but those run $40 dollars apiece, for the smallest size, not counting the axle or other fixtures. And since we only visit the beach for a few days of the year, I can't spend a lot of money. I consulted one engineer, two specialists who deal with special needs rehab equipment/beach wheelchairs, our orthotist, my dad, and called or visited every store in town, and several online, that sold wheels. I considered wheels, skis, runners, balls, and plates; I needed something that would maneuver in sand (wheel or something that would glide) and be wide enough not to sink, and ideally be able to turn or be dragged to change direction. And be lightweight enough so a ~30lb girl could push/turn it.

This wheel might be too thin...but it's the best I could find for the price. It's a $20 wheelbarrow wheel (4" wide, 16" high--it's also heavy, but it has inner ball bearings for a smooth roll). The frame is made of 1 1/2" PVC pipe; total cost of the pipe and fittings were ~20 dollars. The axle was $8, I think.

Our orthotist helped me with the design and measurements, and cut the pieces. The PVC cement and primer together was another $8.

I am still considering sliders--large plastic bowls, actually, for the rear of the walker. Or maybe a different type of "runner". I'm also going to add a hook or two on the top of the frame (I haven't decided exactly where yet) so E can hang her sand pail.

Vids trying this contraption in action should be posted before Saturday--that's when we leave for the Beach! Hopefully, we'll find a place to watch the US-Ghana game on the way down (as if the girls will let us sit there for 2 hours...one can dream, n'est-ce pas?)!

8 comments:

Janet said...

Amazing! I love seeing these adaptations. Its truly inspiring. I hope this works for E! Go USA!

John said...

Amy, that looks great, fantastic job! A wider wheel might help with dry sand, but will be harder to push and turn. It looks as if you've come up with a good compromise. I can't wait to hear how it works!

Mary Katherine said...

I'm an adult w/CP, looking forward to seeing the results. Sand is *tough* and in fact I was wondering if I could use a walker like that myself. I have some needs for assistive devices that I have not found solutions for (despite having a degree in physics and spending time looking). If there is any chance you could email me, I'm at paintedpage@aol.com. I live in Maryland. thanks.

Kenzie Carlson said...

i have spastic dpilegia too, adn i can walk on my won but sand is HARD, the hardest surface of all ogf them in the world, water being the easiest, man when wego to the beache very summmer i dead the wakl especially sicne we have to take the long way ont he board walk, my legs are always hurting SO bad on the way back...

Anonymous said...

Hi, The picture i saw on google was a completed walker with two back wheels, we cant play in sand, mark would eat it, but this looks like something he could use on the yard outside, easy to push, sturdy enough for grass and him. Please Email me, roseof88@yahoo.com so I know exactly what i need and also tell me how you hooked up the back wheels. Thank you so much.

Jim Fershee said...

Where can we find directions on the final product? Our son has Spina Bifida and his walker won't roll on anything but hard surfaces. We feel he would have more fun in the grass. Could you please email me at jimfershee@gmail.com? Thanks!

zoecarl said...

I too would love to have instructions for making

  said...

Depending on the sand at your beach, the wheelbarrow wheel might be to heavy and thin (I speak from experience building a buggy for my bike).

In that case, look at getting a beach wheel from Wheeleez. I put those on the buggy and can do thick sand easy.