Better Bars Eliminate Barriers to Physical Therapy for Children

Gaitway is one of six inventions competing for Georgia Tech’s 2017 InVenture Prize

The road to the InVenture Prize for Veronica Young and Nora Johnson began with a challenge from a faculty member in the College of Design.

He told the two industrial design majors about a problem facing a friend who works as a pediatric physical therapist. She travels to people’s homes to work with their children, but the transportable parallel bars needed for physical therapy were hard to move. Worse, they were designed to work with children only between the ages of 1 and 3.

Young and Johnson stepped in and created Gaitway, a set of transportable parallel bars designed for children who need ambulatory physical therapy. The bars, which fold up to the size of a large suitcase with wheels, are designed to accommodate children as young as 15 months and as old as 10.

The invention is one of six competing for Georgia Tech’s 2017 InVenture Prize. The annual contest encourages and supports interest in innovation and entrepreneurship by rewarding students with cash prizes for inventions that have the potential to solve the world’s problems. The finale will be held on March 15 at the Ferst Center for the Arts.

About 50,000 children born in the U.S. every year will need ambulatory physical therapy, said Young, who is from McDonough, Ga.

“Early intervention is key for these children,” said Johnson, who is from Tampa. “They need physical therapy every day.”

They tested the device with six professionals and two children. The parallel bars are designed to provide support and catch the children if they fall. The bars can sit at waist or chest height, depending on the therapy activities. The device is painted coral and turquoise to make the bars more inviting.

They constructed much of the device in Young’s father’s workshop.

“I learned how to weld to make this,” Young said. “That’s why this has been such an amazing experience. If there was something that needed to be done and we didn’t know how to do it, we learned how to do it.”

The prototype, made out of pine and welded aluminum, weights about 35 pounds.

They drew hundreds of sketches and made 10 small-scale versions of the device to determine the adjustable and collapsible nature of the bars.

The two, who also work in the Delta Air Lines innovation center in Tech Square, showcased Gaitway this winter during the Capstone Design Expo. They are graduating in May and plan to continue working on the device.

“Winning InVenture will get us closer to having a new way to help families all over the world,” Young said. 

Gaitway is a set of transportable parallel bars designed for children who need ambulatory physical therapy. The bars, which fold up to the size of a large suitcase with wheels, are designed to accommodate children as young as 15 months and as old as 10. The invention is one of six competing for Georgia Tech’s 2017 InVenture Prize. 

Industrial design majors Veronica Young and Nora Johnson invented the device. 

Photo by Rob Felt. 
Gaitway is a set of transportable parallel bars designed for children who need ambulatory physical therapy. The bars, which fold up to the size of a large suitcase with wheels, are designed to accommodate children as young as 15 months and as old as 10. The invention is one of six competing for Georgia Tech’s 2017 InVenture Prize.  Industrial design majors Veronica Young and Nora Johnson invented the device.  Photo by Rob Felt. 
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