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P036 Design and development of an innovative neck stabilising aid for children with narcolepsy
  1. Gemma Wheeler1,
  2. Lowri Thomas2,
  3. Nathaniel Mills3,
  4. Joseph Langley1 and
  5. Heather Elphick2
  1. 1Sheffield Hallam University Lab4Living, Sheffield, UK
  2. 2Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield, UK
  3. 3Children and Young People’s MedTech Co-operative, Sheffield, UK


Introduction Narcolepsy is a disabling neurological sleep disorder characterised by excessive daytime sleepiness and attacks of muscle weakness precipitated by strong emotions, known as cataplexy. A previous exploratory technology workshop with children from the Sheffield Children’s Hospital narcolepsy clinic identified ‘Head and neck support in the car’ as their most important unmet need in terms of aids to daily living (32/39 participants). There is currently no suitable car seat or effective support on the market for these children. Therefore, this project aimed to design, develop and evaluate concepts for a neck stabilising aid for children with narcolepsy.

Methods Detailed ‘needs capture’ through a co-design workshop with children with narcolepsy and their parents to map and discuss their travel experiences resulted in an initial specification list. A second creative workshop for idea generation using existing products and early design concepts informed further development.

Results A detailed design specification list has been produced. Seven concept designs have been developed for further evaluation and selection at an upcoming ‘dragon’s den’-style workshop. Concepts will not reach prototype stage within the scope of the project so worksheets and interactive design activities will be used to capture early subjective user opinions.

Discussion The use of creative, co-design methods have proven effective in capturing the voices of children and families to ensure the project is generating meaningful solutions to the core issues in this area. The project is currently ongoing with a number of possible concepts being proposed and evaluated by children and families. The preliminary concepts and supporting evaluation data will be used to apply for future funding to develop the chosen concept to prototype level and beyond.

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