Appeal to public to help get innovative new lifting chair off the ground
An Associate Medical Director at Hywel Dda University Health Board is urging people to vote for his design for a new light-weight lifting device to aid those who fall, in a competition run by business tycoon Sir Richard Branson.
Dr Mark Barnard and a team of engineers at Nemein Health Care Solutions have been busy designing a special ‘Kinisi’ chair, which is aimed at lifting elderly, frail and disabled patients in a dignified manner.
Dr Barnard – who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis as a medical student, and subsequently experienced difficulty getting back up after he broke his leg in a fall – said his team had entered the chair into the #VOOM competition in the hope of winning prize money to market the chair.
The chair consists of flat canvas that can be placed under someone who has fallen, or who is able to shuffle onto it. A lightweight frame is then attached to the canvas, enabling the individual to be lifted safely and with dignity from the floor to a seated position, from where they can easily transfer.
It doesn't matter if patients are indoors or outside when they fall, as it can quickly be brought to them and powered either by battery or plugged in to the mains. Unlike other lifting devices, it can be rapidly deployed, can raise a person weighing up to 140kg in less than 40 seconds, and is easily stored away until needed.
Dr Barnard said: “I broke my leg in a fall and initially I was able to get myself up easily, but as time went on this became harder and I couldn’t understand why there was nothing out there to help people retain their independence.
“I was aware of what some elderly patients have to endure from my work as a GP, and we all see our parents becoming frail. So I decided to invent something! It’s taken around six years to get this far, but I believe that it will help not only me, but others with chronic illness such as MS, Parkinsons and Motor Neurone Disease, to maintain their independence.
“It can be used by first-aid trained carers, nursing homes, sheltered accommodation and first response ambulance teams, significantly reducing the need to use front-line paramedics.”
Currently 50 per cent of people over 80 years old will suffer a fall and 10 per cent of 999 calls are for falls, with almost half being for lifting only.
Dr Barnard added: “The ‘fear’ of falling has a significant negative effect on people, particularly the elderly. They will often lie on the floor all night rather than bother family, friends or the emergency services. We want to try and change that mindset by ensuring that people who suffer a fall can get back up quickly but with dignity.”
To see how the chair works or to vote, visit https://vimeo.com/161942517, or http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/kinisi-lifting-with-dignity.
Photos: Dr Mark Barnard demonstrating the lifting chair.