Design of a Wearable Vibration Therapy Device for Relieving Plantar Fasciitis Pain, Based on the Input of Clinicians

Sarmast, Farshid
Joseph, Frances
Taylor, Lynne
Baguley, Craig
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Master of Creative Technologies
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Auckland University of Technology

This study explored the technical and design aspects and requirements underpinning the design process of a new wearable vibration therapy device for home users to reduce the pain caused by plantar fasciitis. The device has the potential to help reduce demands on health practitioners’ time while ensuring a consistent level of ongoing treatment. In this research Myovolt Ltd., a Christchurch-based, company was the industry sponsor, and Callaghan Innovation funded the study.

The process followed in this project consisted of four steps including 1. Problem identification 2. Idea generation 3. Prototyping and 4. Evaluation. A combination of literature review, asking experts’ advice and feedback (on the outcome of the design process), creative idea generation methods (mind mapping, mood board, sketching, etc.) and prototyping informed the design process with useful data.

To develop a deeper insight into the problem in the primary stages of the study and to get feedback on the design outcome of the project, the researcher interviewed some physiotherapists and podiatrists. Similarly, the academic supervisors and Myovolt managers gave beneficial information that helped the researcher in different stages of the project.

The outcome of the project was a device consisting of a vibration therapy unit in two sizes (one for small-medium feet, and the other for medium-large feet) and a knitted wrap (in two versions) to enclose the unit. The reason for choosing this approach from other design concepts generated was to enable users to hold the vibration units on the foot more easily and comfortably. The entire knit development and prototyping process was done at AUT’s Textile and Design LAB.

As no similar product for the same purpose exists on the market, this research and its outcome are the first endeavors to create a user-centric wearable device for domestic users to manage the pain caused by plantar fasciitis at home. The iterative design process adopted in this project and consultation with experts at the beginning and the end of the research process helped the researcher decide the considerations for the final design solution and to understand to what extent the outcome corresponds to the design requirements.

This research will be useful for prospective researchers/designers in the design of user-oriented products, especially healthcare and therapeutic products. The overall feedback given by the experts confirmed the outcome of the project and helped identify what to improve through future development.

Plantar fasiitis , Vibration therapy , Wearable , Pain relief , product design
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