Introduction: No Slip Cane
Per my role as a rising physician, I encounter a wide variety of health problems in individuals. With my recent focus on patients with brain tumors, a common and serious concern is falls. As tumors press up against the cerebellum, motor coordination is decreased. As tumors press against or cause destruction of the motor cortex, motor abilities decrease. Both of these increase the risk of falls.
There are already means of addressing these issues, namely gait assistance devices, like canes, wheelchairs, PT, etc. What is most accessible is the cane, which is why I chose to focus on this device for the project. This device is attractive because mobility is something all people want and the transition to a wheelchair can be significant emotionally (if you could no longer walk, that would be a big deal, right?). I sought to improve the length of time one could use a cane prior to a wheelchair or more bulky walking devices as such prolongation would improve mental health.
The key issues that I would anticipate being limitations in using a cane for a longer period of time is the actual coordination required of using a cane. The risk of falling increases if one does not use a cane appropriately, such as placing it at too great of an angle and thus limiting traction from the rubber end. I addressed this by designing a 3D printable alternative cane tip. As friction is proportional to the surface area of contact, I sought to maximize this contact surface area while also using a material that increased the friction coefficient, ie weather non-slip tiles.
The construction of this device I have made is very simple and is described in the instructable. This was on purpose to create a simpler device so anyone could make it without too much difficulty. I explored the idea of using a gyroscopic sensor tied with Arduino and vibration unit to vibrate the handle when the angle of the cane exceeds a "safe" range (thus driving learning of appropriate technique that in itself would be helpful and as associated with a stimulus making it more subconscious, could facilitate learning even in those with cognitive deficits). I also explored using strain gauges to contrast the weight placed on different axial ends of the cane base. I decided to not explore these ideas as it would make the device increasingly complex and require batteries (with inevitable changes). Such batteries would have to be stored within the cane, which would not be difficult to design or facilitate safe replacement of burned out batteries, but would add complexity and a need to re-calibrate the cane that could be too much for the average consumer, particularly those with cognitive deficits.
WARNING: WHILE I HAVE TESTED THIS PRODUCT AND FOUND IT RELIABLE WITH ME AS AN INDIVIDUAL, ONE WITHOUT MOBILITY ISSUES OR IMPAIRED PROPRIOCEPTION, I HAVE NOT TESTED THIS WITH THOSE WHO ARE NOT AS FORTUNATE AS I AM, THUS I CANNOT ENSURE THE SAFETY OF THIS DEVICE FOR SUCH INDIVIDUALS. USE THIS PRODUCT AT YOUR OWN RISK.
Access to 3D printer
All-weather non-slip adhesive pads (I used the following: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B07M8XV9M1/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1). I used around 1/2 of the box to make one of my devices, ie ~$5.
Step 1: 3D Print the Cane Head
The first step is to print my design, which I have designed in Tinkercad and attached to this instructable (I will post on Thingiverse once I publish this instructable). Settings are as follows:
-Type of filament: pick your favorite
-Nozzle size: whatever you want
-Support: not needed
-Raft: not needed
-Slicer program: pick your favorite, this works with Cura
The print area is 140x140x88 mm so should be printable by most printers, including the Flashforge Creator Pro which I have depicted here along with the Creality Ender series (I printed mine using an Ender 5). It took around 150 g of filament for me using a 0.6 mm nozzle. If using $15/kg filament, this equates to $2.25. The size is not excessive in the sense that once it is ultimately attached to the cane, it did not pose a tripping hazard to me as an individual. Although, read the warning that I have written into the introduction regarding the device.
Step 2: Remove the Rubber Head From the Cane
Simply take off the rubber from the end of the cane. This was readily accomplished on the cane that I purchased for this project: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B000CSWBWU/ref...
For canes that have a firmly bound rubber tip, a heat gun should melt the adhesive holding it place without burning the rubber given an appropriate temperature. If one does not have access to a heat gun, you could cut off pieces of the rubber until gone using a knife. Alternatively, saw off the part of the cane with the rubber tip and simply adjust the cane for this change.
Step 3: Attach the Non-slip Grip Material Onto the Print and Put on End of Cane.
The next step is to simply cut the strips to cover all the surfaces of the print expected to come in contact with the ground. For some surfaces, this required cutting a couple of pieces and placing them. I aimed to not have pieces overlap one another due to concern of poor adhesion of the glue onto an unequal surface (the grit).
Step 4: Adjust and Use the Cane
Next one simply needs to adjust the cane per its individual instructions to fit the individual and then use it. I have pictures demonstrating its effectiveness when leaning on a 60ish degree angle on ice and snow (ice on the image with the cane against the blacker material, snow on the image with the cane against the whiter material). Note how on both images the custom surface I developed has contact points solely on the surface with no extra support provided by a wall of material/projections of material. Given function with such surfaces, one can assume it also works on wood/cement.
Step 5: Conclusion
As demonstrated and as I have tested, this cane provides greater grip onto surfaces that could improve on the design of the typical cane. This improvement would work across settings, from indoors to outdoors in varied weather conditions. While I have tested this product for myself and found it to be reliable, I cannot with good conscience recommend anyone design this product and then gift it to an elder or someone with mobility issues as it has not been tested for these individuals, thus potentially posing a risk for falls. I post this instructable to encourage users to experiment with everyday items and take what I have created and do the further work necessary to create items that could improve the lives of all individuals, regardless of their background.
Participated in the
Assistive Tech Contest