Student design competition launched to improve lives of people with spinal cord injuries

The winning entry of the product design competition will be awarded £3,000, while a further £2,000 will go to the university they study at.

Raquel Siganporia, head of Bolt Burdon Kemp’s spinal injury division

Update 2 November 2018: The winner of the competition has now been announced as wheelchair concept Moveo, designed by Kristen Tapping, a product design student at London South Bank University. The wheelchair separates the wheel from the pushing rail by using a spur gear, which means the user does not have to touch the wheel to move. This also reduces the force needed, meaning less effort is needed compared to using a normal wheelchair. Tapping wins £3,000 prize money, plus £2,000 for her university. Scroll down for an image of the Moveo wheelchair.

A new, £5,000 student design competition has launched with the aim of raising awareness about the day-to-day challenges faced by people with spinal cord injuries.

Getting Back on Track is being organised by law firm Bolt Burdon Kemp, which specialises in accident and injury legal claims. The competition requires individual or small teams of students to submit an idea for a new product that could improve the quality of daily life for someone with a spinal cord injury.

The products should be both “practical” and “unique”, says Bolt Burdon Kemp, and can be something as simple as a new type of bag that can be attached to a wheelchair, or a more complex concept such as a dishwasher that is adapted to be used more easily by people with spinal cord injuries.

The competition is open to individual students or teams of up to four studying undergraduate or postgraduate courses at any higher education institution, college or university in the UK. Entries must include details on the problem that the student is aiming to solve, the development process and the final design.

Help people adjust to their “new normal”

The competition will be judged by panel of experts, including people from Cerebra, a charity that supports children with neurological conditions. The panel will base its judgement on whether a product properly considers the needs of someone with a spinal cord injury, solves a day-to-day problem for the user, and demonstrates commercial awareness and viability.

The winning entry will receive a £3,000 prize, along with a week-long work experience placement at charity Cerebra’s research centre. A further £2,000 will also be awarded to the winner’s university or other educational institution.

Head of Bolt Burdon Kemp’s spinal injury division Raquel Siganporia, says: “In my role I see lots of people who have suffered life-changing spinal cord injuries – be it from an accident or as a result of clinical negligence. In these instances, my client needs to adjust to their injury, their new mobility needs, and get back to their ‘new normal’ as soon as possible.”

Siganporia adds: “We’ve launched this competition to invite design students to come up with a new product that can help a person with a spinal cord injury day-to-day. All too often, it’s a simple, everyday task that can be an issue for somebody with a spinal cord injury.”

Entries close May 2018

Getting Back on Track is now open for entries, and the competition will close on 21 May 2018. Shortlisted entries will be announced and an awards ceremony naming the winner will take place in July 2018. For more information and to enter the competition, head here.

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