Transportation of people seated in wheelchairs:

Jason Williams

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Acquisition and analysis of 3D shapes of postural support system (2008)

Lorna Tasker, Swansea NHS Trust, Trainee Clinical Scientist, Morriston Hospital, Morriston, Swansea, Wales

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For 30 years or more specialists in seating services in the developed world have captured many thousands of shapes (contours) in various forms for special seating systems. The development of these systems has transformed wheelchairs allowing people with severe physical problems to leave the confines of institutional life and access the wider community (1). However, with a small proportion of CAD/CAM exceptions, for most of these systems no comparable measurement or outcome data are available, the information has not been recorded. The current situation is that there is a lack of knowledge of these shapes, which limits the possibilities for scientific and commercial advances within the field.

The aim of the proposed pilot project is to review available technologies and to collate information about support system shapes to allow quantitative analysis of the profiles and contours of a variety of seating systems. It is envisaged that to promote the next generation of special seating and postural support provision, greater understanding of the shapes providing postural support for people with disabilities is required. We believe the proposed project has stand-alone value and also will form the basis for defining broader research.

The grant money will allow access to and manipulation of precise 3D information using a FARO Laser ScanArm, a seven-axis articulated laser scanner arm from the Digital Design Partnership (DDP) Project, Coleg Sir Gar, Llanelli. The team from DDP will provide the collection of shape data from between 20 to 30 seating systems using the ScanArm and post-processing using advanced 3D software to allow the manipulation and analysis of the contour information.

In parallel to this, a Microscribe Microscan3D, a desktop laser scanner, which has recently been acquired by the Rehabilitation Engineering Unit in Swansea, will be used for comparison and validation purposes by re-scanning 5 of the seating systems. Further validation will also be investigated by transferring the scanned digital data to a CNC machine to carve a seating system, resources that will be supplied by the DDP.

Successful preliminary data capture experiments have already been performed using both scanning systems, allowing comparison due to software compatibility. Analysis and reporting over and above that provided by DDP will be provided as part of a funded M.Sc.


Dr Tasker's paper The use and validation of a laser scanner for computer aided design and manufacturing of wheelchair seating has been published in a peer review journal:

Tasker, L. H., Shapcott N. G., Holland P.M., "The use and validation of a laser scanner for computer aided design and manufacturing of wheelchair seating." J Med Eng Technol 35(6-7): 377-385, 2011.


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