Challenge: Bicycle Handles for Prosthetics
Challenger: Dr. Jensen Shirley, Army Veteran
University Partner: San Diego State University
Student Team: Matthew Buoncristiniani, Jacob Dayton, Olivia Di Santo, and Christian Mercado
Faculty Advisor: Scott Shaffar
QL+ Program Manager: Annmarie Orr
Throughout the course of the past nine months working on our senior project, our team has grown tremendously as engineers. We began this project with a vision and a goal to make our challenger’s dream come true through applying abilities in engineering and problem-solving. We started with a problem statement that was given and envisioning a solution through a definable set of goals. Each of these goals began getting more and more real as we progressed through the Fall semester outlining our scheduling and designs.
In the preliminary research, the focus was on finding other examples of amputees who were able to ride bikes, either through custom handlebars or custom prosthetics. There was a racing cyclist who had one arm amputated. He had a prosthetic arm designed specifically for racing. While this exact prosthetic was not helpful to the project, it also included data about forces and factors of safety. This data was used as a comparison for the factor of safety for the project. The data researched allowed us to figure out the best design that would suit our challenges needs while fulfilling our initial requirements we laid out.
Our initial requirements included a design that allowed for the individual to use with current prosthetic set up and personal bike, safely built into an upright bike, adjustable height of the handlebars, allowing for the user to safely operate while being able to safely release at any point and device portability. Using these requirements, we developed a final design that incorporated all that we envisioned at the start.
The final design consisted of a horizontal shaft that allows the user to widen and shorten the width of the handlebars depending on the size of the user by adjusting the pin placement. On the bottom of the horizontal shaft are two vertical shafts that allow the user to adjust the height up to 14 inches. At the ends of the horizontal shaft are two shorter vertical shafts that are stacked on top of each other which are connected by an adjuster plate and pin. This allows the user to adjust the angle of the handlebars. On the top shaft, there is a ring attachment that the user can “hook” into when riding while having armrests to rest their prosthetics while riding.
Over the course of the spring semester, we were able to manufacture all necessary parts for our design. However, the project was put on pause when COVID-19 seized all operations. This led to our team not being able to assemble our manufactured parts or begin testing with our challenger. Although this resulted in us not being able to fully complete our project by the end of the semester, it did not stop our desire to finish our product and deliver it to our challenger. We worked diligently to develop a traveled work plan for our sponsor to ensure the project is completed by our team when we have access to the necessary resources for completing or if the student QL+ chapter was to assist us in finishing.
This was not the ending any of us imagined, but we are very proud of the countless hours we put into this project. We thank Dr. Shaffar for his guidance and for challenging us every week to develop our projects. We also thank the Quality of Life Plus organization for sponsoring this project and supporting us through everything we have done the past nine months. Without the support from Dr. Shaffar, Quality of Life Plus, and San Diego State University, none of this would have been possible and our team is very grateful for everything we have achieved from this project.