June 24, 2020


Our Innovative and Life-Changing Solutions

Challenge:  Enhanced Walker
Challenger:  Phillip Swinford, Army Veteran
University Partner:  Virginia Tech
Student Team: Blake Adkins, Christopher Agud, Emily Graziani, Sophis Hatcher, Jason Hurley, Katelyn Kleinschmidt, and Rachel Maile
Faculty Advisor:  Genevieve Gural
QLPlus Program Manager:  Janet Papazis

Project Summary:

The project Challenger, Phil Swinford, is a retired U.S. Army Veteran and Virginia Tech
Parent who experienced an injury while mountain biking with his son, who is a cadet at Virginia
Tech. The accident caused a spinal cord injury, and he is now a C-2 incomplete quadriplegic. Phil attends physical therapy several times a week where he is regaining his ability to walk. Commercial
walkers that are readily available on the market do not suit his needs and are thus making learning
to walk again more challenging.

In order to assist Phil in safely learning to walk again, the team set out to design, build, and
test an enhanced walker that the challenger can use at home and take to physical therapy. The
improved walker will have the off-pavement capability and enhanced lateral and fore-aft stability in
addition to several attachments that meet his specific needs. The team intends to design, build, test,
and present prototypes meeting the established design requirements while ensuring the safety of
the challenger. A successful outcome for the team is to deliver a walker that meets the challenger’s
needs and ultimately improves his quality of life. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the team’s
efforts have been temporarily postponed. However, the team still strives to achieve a successful outcome. The team hopes that Phil will be able to use this walker for many years to come,
especially as his walking ability continues to improve.

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A group of students helps a man by building a walker