By Zach Taylor, University Relations Student Writer
While bean bag chairs may seem like nothing more than rec room staples, they offer a much needed form of physical therapy for a class at Orange Grove Center.
Foof Chairs, as the giant bags are known, conform to the shape of the person sitting in them, eliminating tension on pressure points. In an effort to increase the mobility and convenience of the Foof, UTC engineering students Jesse Gainer, Chris Ashcraft, Matt Duff, and A.J. Hampton came together to build a Foof mover.
“We wanted to make sure that the transfer process would be easier and that the staff could move the students wherever they needed to when in the Foof,” said Gainer.
The project was designed for a seven-person class, ages 12-20. All the students use wheelchairs due to a variety of disabilities and severe medical needs. A floor lift cannot be used on the Foof, and a ceiling lift is limited to a small area, so the mover was designed to elevate the chair three feet off the ground to help the staff move students in and out of the Foof. The mover can also be disassembled for quick and easy transportation and storage.
According to Tami Joiner, the class’s teacher, the main issue with using the Foof is how cumbersome it can be.
“We previously had to drag it to the center of the room in order to use it; however, this often left it in the way. The mover has allowed us to pull it with ease to the desired location, position a student on it, and then move it with ease as needed,” said Joiner.
While comfort and convenience influenced the design, safety was the most important objective. The UTC group milled out a recess into the base in order to cradle and secure the Foof, and also routed out the edges so that everything was smooth. Special attention had to be given to materials used due to allergies, as well as to make sure that there were no pinching or choking hazards on the device.
“I was pleasantly surprised at the concern for detail that the guys had when asking me questions regarding the Foof’s intended function. They wanted to leave nothing to chance. They brought it over to test it and also make sure that we found it aesthetically pleasing. They went above and beyond,” said Joiner.
Maple wood and redwood were used from recycled lab materials to build the base, and plywood was used to help support the four casters at the bottom to a metal frame.
With the mover, not only do the students receive a respite from being in a wheelchair, but now they also are given a new range of movement in a fun and comfortable way.