Royal Society of Arts launches spinal injuries programme

The Royal Society of Arts is launching a pilot scheme in which leading designers will give basic design training to spinal injury patients, possibly helping them to create their own products and services.

The Design & Rehabilitation programme will involve presentations and workshops for patients from all 11 spinal injury centres throughout the UK and Ireland.

Sir John Sorrell and Richard Seymour will be among designers involved in the programme, teaching patients basic design skills in an attempt to help them to regain confidence and independence.

‘People trained in design are practised in solving problems, and they have methods, tools and tips that everyone can use,’ says RSA design director Emily Campbell, who conceived the project.

Following a series of presentations introducing design to users, a three-day residential workshop will see them working on ‘a brief that is very personal to them’, says Campbell. Resulting products could be prototyped.

Former spinal injury patient David Constantine, who trained as a designer after his accident, is supporting the programme. ‘Spinal-cord injury is life-changing and requires creativity – you need to adapt the lessons you learn in rehabilitation to your own purposes,’ he says. ‘People will really benefit from training in creative processes by which they can supplement the provision of equipment and services.’

Other design figures involved in the project include Royal Designers for Industry Nick Butler, Terence Woodgate, Peter Higgins and Tom Lloyd, as well as Michael Marriott, Pascal Anson, Ben Wilson and Design Council deputy chief executive David Godber.

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