Working with people with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) on an innovative technology to support their independence
In 2018, People’s Postcode Lottery funded a collaboration between WhizzKidz, Duchenne UK and the University of Edinburgh to develop of the first prototype of the Dream Chair. The outcome of the project was the mark 1 prototype, which had lots of unique features.
In 2021, we took on the Dream Chair project and explored manufacturing options for the mark 1 design concept.
Could the concept be made using existing manufacturers and production lines?
We explored what’s possible using current production methods by working with a wheelchair manufacturer to create the mark 2 prototype. We invested our own money in doing this.
We then took the prototype back out to the community and clinical stakeholders for review in January 2023. The feedback from the DMD community was mixed, so we decided to dig deeper into the underlying issues and commissioned some user research into powered wheelchairs.
This research included observing people with DMD using their powered wheelchairs in different environments and speaking to them about their experiences of being a powered wheelchair user. We learnt about the challenges of stability over rough and uneven terrain, the annoyance of the beeps from the controller, the importance of how it looks and much more.
We will be taking these learnings forward into three concept visions – opportunities for innovation that would transform the market and answer the expectations of the community.
We’ll conduct a benchmarking exercise to ensure that our chosen vision for the project is transformative when compared to current wheelchairs on the market.
We will be engaging the community at every stage, and working in collaboration with organisations who share our vision and values.
A landmark year of achievement and impact