Hip fractures are a very serious condition in the elderly, greatly increasing morbidity and mortality, and decreasing healthy life years. The average age of a person who fractures their hip is 77 years. The annual cost of medical and social care for all the hip fracture cases in the UK amounts to about £2 billion (National Clinical Guideline Centre, 2011).
I will explore how impact-absorbing materials can reduce the risk of hip fractures caused by falls. Prototypes will be developed to understand how hip protection can be designed to look, feel and operate, in a way that’s sensitive to sociocultural and lifestyle aspirations of elderly people in the UK. I aim to develop hip protection products for elderly people that reduce the risk of hip fractures whilst embodying a human-centred design (HCD) language, widening product acceptance and adoption.
HCD engages directly with people who are potential users of the product to effectively inform its appearance, function and meaning. Inclusive design seeks to make products suitable and appealing to the widest proportion of people as possible. Coleman et al. (2007) argue that the design of special needs products are all too often, “more akin to hospital aids and appliances than consumer based products and services”, a criticism of hip-protector precedents.
New knowledge will exist in the junction between technological innovation, inclusive design, fashion theory and product semantics, proposing new solutions to reducing hip fractures in the elderly. The practice will test theory in these domains to develop human-centred design solutions in response to technology-centred ‘hip protector’ precedents.
Supervision Team: Dr Simon Clarke (Director of Studies), Drummond Masterton