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UC Design Students Role Play as Patients to Innovate Better Hospital Tray Tables


Students from UC’s nationally and internationally ranked industrial design program recently took on the roles of hospital patients to begin their redesign of the hospital tray table. Below are select comments from that role play.

Date: 12/2/2009 12:00:00 AM
By: M.B. Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Lisa Ventre

UC ingot   Nineteen industrial design students from the University of Cincinnati’s nationally and internationally ranked School of Design are redesigning the hospital tray table, adapting the device for the 21st century.
Chase Jones
UC industrial design student Chase Jones tries to use the current design for the hospital tray table as he role played being a hospital patient.



Design faculty and students from UC’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP) have teamed up with university’s College of Nursing to re-examine and redesign often overlooked items key to comfort and care in both medical and home environments.

Currently, UC design students are making redesign proposals for the hospital tray table. In their research, the students interviewed users of hospital tray tables. The students also became users of those same tables, simulating

  • Patients who have suffered a stroke (with limited use of the right side of the body).
  • Patients with limited vision and hearing.
  • Patients with arthritis (limited neck and hand strength and movement).



FEEDBACK BY STUDENTS ASKED TO SIMULATE STROKE-INDUCED LIMITATIONS (limited use of right side)

  • “Can you lower this because I can’t reach anything over here?”
  • “I kind of want to clear some of this stuff out.”
  • “I like this to be nearby.” (Constantly moving and rearranging items on the limited surface space.)
  • “I can’t see myself in the mirror because it’s pointing up. There’s no way to hold it in the proper position.”
  • “I’d want outlets. I’d probably keep my computer on my lap.”
  • “I don’t have control.”
  • “If my caregiver was not around to help me, the nurse would probably get pretty frustrated with me.”
  • “Even in the short amount, the feeling of helplessness is pretty acute. Needing help with doing easy things like moving the tray... . People want to be capable.”


FEEDBACK BY STUDENTS ASKED TO SIMULATE HEARING AND VISION LIMITATIONS

  • “I can’t lift the table by myself.”
  • “I feel frustrated because I can’t do anything on my own. I feel inadequate. I wanted to do things myself, but I couldn’t.”
  • “Things are too cluttered. I’m a neat person.”


FEEDBACK BY STUDENTS ASKED TO SIMULATE ARTHRITIS (neck and hand limitations)

  • “I can do it. No I can’t. (Can’t open banana. Tries to bite it open.) To nurse: “Can you peel the banana…Sorry I bit it.”
  • “Can you open that for me?” (Asking nurse to open a cookie package.)
  • “Pushing the table away isn’t hard but getting it in place is.”
  • “You can only try so much before you give up.”



RETURN TOTurning the Tables on Bad Design: UC Students Innovate Better Hospital Tray Tables”