Visiting a wheelchair seating specialist

Today I had a chance to visit Prosthetics & Orthotics in Chedoke Hospital, Hamilton Health Sciences.  The landlord of my current place introduced me to a friend of his who works as a seating specialist there.  She creates custom wheelchair seating suitable for the medical and physical conditions of every individual wheelchair user.  Her work is slightly different from what I want to pursue, but highly related and very inspiring to me. I have a lot to write, but let me pick up a few.

First, more people are involved in providing a wheelchair to a user than people typically imagine.  The wheelchairs are provided by two American companies, Sunrise Medical and Invacare, then she designs seating i.e., cushioning and the hardware to attach the cushion to the wheelchair frame.  Another person makes fabric to cover the cushion, and some other technicians are also involved.  I don’t know how many people are involved in creating a wheelchair itself.  Human factors specialists are probably involved, and engineers are included for sure.  I wonder how many “designers” are involved; human factors specialists and engineers are, in a way, designers.  I wonder how many industrial designers are involved.

Second, you cannot imagine how people are connected.  If the landlord did not have a friend who works there, probably I would have not had a chance to visit the hospital. And, the fabric designer’s husband is a mechanical engineering professor at McMaster University.  What a coincidence!  Probably the professor is connected to me through some other people.

Last but not least, I loved her workplace.   It reminds me of the metal and wood workshops of the Faculty of Environmental Design, University of Calgary, where I built many models and worked as a TA.  I built a working prototype of a wheelchair in my Master’s Degree Project, and I am proud of it, but could not mention it to her. Compared to their works, mine is like a toy!

Now, let’s think how to step forward to my dream career path.

October 30, 2012Permalink