This is largely a proof-of-concept project to create a device for people with disabilities to use for exercise per friendorphobia's request. Their mother loved dancing and hated the leg lifts and arm circles that were prescribed as "exercise" in the later years of her life.
"You know those baby exercisers that hang in the doorway - I think they are called Johnny Jump-Ups. They suspend the baby by elastic cords, and the baby can jump and kick without falling. I would think there would be a way to make something like that for an adult invalid, to support her or his body weight while allowing them to move to the music."
So here is my low-cost and low tech stab at a device to help with some mobility support.
Step 1: Materials
- A harness - Depending on their mobility abilities you might want a full body harness. Just about any harness could work. I didn't have my climbing harness but had this arborist harness. I think a harness like the Black Diamond Alpine Bod would work well because of the ease of putting the leg straps on. The nice thing about the harness I used is that it is designed for hanging on the harness for a long period of time. However it is designed for a seated position.
- A large ring - I used a three foot diameter ring from a clothing store rack. You could construct a square or triangle out of lumber but I had this salvaged piece kicking around.
- 6-8 similar diameter inner-tubes from bicycles (these could be old ones with little damage.)
- 3 or more fairly large carabiners, snap links, or threaded connectors
- 20 feet or more of webbing, rope or cable.
- Ceiling attachment rig - perhaps a large eyebolt into a beam, or a length of webbing tied around a beam. Perhaps with a swivel. Or, this could be replaced with a structure attached to casters that would allow for more mobility.
Step 2: Attach the Inner Tubes
I used three inner tubes on each side. But you may need more or less depending on the weight of the person using it. I found the six provided a decent amount of elasticity for me at 200 pounds. A smaller diameter inner tube than the 1.75 size will probably need more. You'll want an even number for best balance unless you're using three points of attachment.
Just take the inner tubes and fold them in half around the ring. Use a large carabiner or snap ring to connect them. I had to do them one or two at a time to pass the gate.
Step 3: Attach the Webbing
Step 4: Suspend the Seat
For my test I just hung it from my porch beam. Unfortunately that's at only 6 feet high so the level was about two feet lower than it would have been if it had been hung from something inside. And since the harness I used was designed for a seated position it wasn't optimal to demonstrate the possibilities of dancing or other standing movement. But this did work really well for pivoting, swaying from side to side, and bouncing.
Despite the photographic evidence, I did not need to use my hands to balance in the seat - only when I intentionally leaned back. I am certain that if this was mounted higher and also had a climbing harness that it would have been very easy to stand up with the support necessary.
I could swivel my hips from side to side, bounce with my legs, rock back and forth and otherwise get jiggy without having to support my full weight on my legs. With the harness I used, some balance or upper body strength would be best but with a "three point" or full body harness and a little more rigging it would also be quite useful.
One of the first jobs that I had when I got out of college was to provide recreational services for people with disabilities. We worked with downhill and cross-country skiing, canoeing and kayaking but never with dancing. I have close friends that work with people with disabilities today and have sleds for use with hockey, have wheelchair basketball leagues and hand-cycle mountain bikes at their disposal... and I hope that a simple contraption like this will allow for some with less adventurous interests to live a more active an healthy life!
Finalist in the
Humana Health Challenge