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posture protect.

fall. 2017

University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering Design Expo

Best Overall Design Project

problem statement

people with parkinson's disease experience poor posture, which negatively impacts their quality of life by exacerbating existing challenges.

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bad posture

balance issues

poor gait

weak muscles


less dependence

less confidence

good posture

less likely to fall

improved gait

strength maintenance

improved comfort

more independence

more confidence

design process

our design group of five mechanical and bio engineers decided that we wanted to create a product to improve the quality of life for people with parkinson's.

we began with customer discovery, surveying people with parkinson's to understand what their biggest daily challenges are.

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we found that trouble with legs and hand coordination were the biggest challenges for those surveyed, however, we believed that we could innovate most freely and successfully with our given time and resources to improve posture and trouble with legs.

we listed our potential users, stakeholders, and experts in our pursuit of a solution, and began reaching out to them all to gain a better understanding of the issues and possibilities.


  • parkinson's patients

  • postural deficiencies


  • caregivers

  • physicians

  • therapists

  • family members


  • PTs

  • OTs

  • caregivers

after speaking to a few OTs and PTs, we learned that these issues are innately linked, that poor posture exacerbates problems with legs, and that people with parkinson's can self correct posture when reminded. we sticky note ideated how to approach correcting bad posture and sticky feet.

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we reached out to fit4boxing boxing gym that had a specialized "rock steady" course for improving the coordination and strength of people with parkinson's, and began visiting weekly to interact with our future users, pursue human centered design, and iterate prototypes based upon user feedback.

design goals

daily use

  • detect and alert poor posture

  • posture correction

  • simple to use

long term use

  • reinforce good posture

  • improve confidence, independence, safety, and quality of life

through rapid prototyping with little bits and gym visits, we landed on a tactile feedback brace system to support good posture and alert poor posture

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medical experts

caretakers & trainers

people with parkinson's 

struggled with posture

could correct posture

fit4boxing visits for testing and feedback

design iterations user-tested


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user feedback

"putting it on was actually pretty easy"

"the vibration makes you straighten right up"

"a little stride for these guys is a really big deal"

"when can we buy one for ourselves?"

-rock steady pittsburgh community members


won "best overall design" at the fall 2017 swanson school of engineering design expo

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