Too many walking aides are susceptible to instability and falling over, leading to potential injury for users. Fortunately, Avery Alperin ‘21 may have found a solution—and push for a patent is underway.
Alperin, who took “Problem Solving Through Design” last year, was inspired to center her project around stabilizing walkers.
“I think this is a big problem because a lot of these falls, especially with those who are older, lead to complications, which can possibly lead to death,” Alperin said.
Since taking the elective, Alperin has spent a lot of time researching and designing a prototype for a product that will stabilize walkers. She started her project by researching issues people who rely on walkers encounter, particularly when it comes to balance and posture. She then focused on walkers without wheels, as she hoped to find a solution that would make them safer for users.
Walkers without wheels tend to make the user lean forward, a particular challenge for Alperin. To address this, she had teachers of different heights use a normal walker, which allowed her to find the best angle for a stabilizing element. Alperin discovered that she should create a mechanism to stop the walker from falling over at a certain angle. She used a spring and wood mechanism to force the walker to stop when it senses the product to be at an 80º angle.
Director of Innovation and Design Kathryn Lee teaches the course that prompted Alperin to take on her project.
“Avery was determined to find a solution to make walking aids safer, more dependable, and more effective for any individual who needs assistance,” Lee shared. “She completed hours of research, gaining statistical evidence of the risks walkers pose, while convincing her peers that this was a real problem, impacting real people, and that they could make a difference.”
Alperin is now working with outside partners to try and help her idea become a reality. She is working with a program called Lemelson-MIT, which helps young inventors develop their inventions, to help her create a better and more functional prototype. This is also to help Alperin pursue another main focus of hers, which is to successfully file a patent on this invention.
Upper School Head Joshua Neudel helped Alperin find a lawyer to file a patent on her design.
“I reached out to Mr. Don Steinberg at WilmerHale about potentially entering into an agreement with Brimmer and May to work pro-bono for Brimmer students that create inventions in Problem Solving Through Design,” Neudel said. “Mr. Steinberg and I collaborated via WilmerHale in the past on student inventions and the firm welcomed working with Brimmer students.”
Alperin says she will do whatever she can to ensure the patent application is approved, and she continues to work with Lemelson-MIT to improve her prototype.