New cooking aid developed for arthritis sufferers

By Paul Ridden

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For those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, just taking a pan of boiling vegetables from the cooker to the sink can be an awkward and dangerous adventure. After numerous interviews with sufferers, Australian university student Ching-Hao Hsu discovered that many regularly risk injury by trying to carry one-handled pans with the aid of a towel. To make such tasks a might easier, Hsu has designed the Arthritis Handle. The device slips over the forearm and allows the user to safely support the cookware on its journey around the kitchen.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory condition that can affect many tissues and organs but mainly attacks the joints, leading to restrictions in movement ranging from a little stiffness in the fingers to complete disability. After Taiwan-born Hsu observed sufferers struggling to carry hot cookware around a kitchen, he set about designing a solution.

“It was difficult for sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis to lift things with their hands, due to having limited strength and flexibility,” Hsu said. “So they had to lift with their forearms. This limited them to using cookware with handles on both sides. If a saucepan only had one handle, most people put a towel over their other forearm to grasp the opposite side of the pot, but this was a slippery and dangerous way of lifting, exposing the person to the risk of burns.”

The Arthritis Handle is made from thermoplastic elastomers and has a heat-resistant silicone coating to limit heat transfer from the cookware to the user’s arm. Forearm strength is used to grip the cookware and the device has been designed to help spread the weight of the cookware across the forearm, with padded lining to maximize contact, and a magnetic strip adds an extra bit of stability for metal pans.

The Handle can be used on either arm and the ergonomically-designed finger holder at the front is designed so that users don’t need to twist the fingers. Hsu sees production models coming in a variety of colors.

The Arthritis Handle design has just made it onto the first-round shortlist for the 2011 Australian Design Award/James Dyson Award competition. It’s also been entered in the Kitchen Tools International Design Competition.

Hsu completed his Bachelor of Design (Industrial Design) at the end of 2010 at Queensland University of Technology and is now studying for his masters in lighting engineering.

Overview

This product helps to stabilize the user while carrying a pot or pan around the kitchen. I found this particular project interesting because it is also a student project, and because there is an included video showing the product in use by an elderly woman. The product obviously has been developed and researched with the user placed foremost in its planning. The idea uses the arm strength of the user rather than the hands, and it protects from potential heat coming from the pot. Another interesting aspect of this project is that it is a product that is not trying to fix or adapt to another non-accessible product. Instead of having to make a second tool to help complete a task, it is its own tool to complete the task without any other products.

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