Freedom Solutions Australia

Logo of Freedom Solutions Australia. The text "freedom solutions" is written in lowercase letters with "freedom" on top of "solutions," both in a bright blue colour. The letter "o" in "freedom" is stylised as a wheelchair symbol, representing inclusivity. Below "solutions," the word "australia" is written in smaller, lowercase letters. The logo also features a gear symbol integrated into the "o" of "solutions," signifying innovation and technology.

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A Simple Task Made Possible: The Journey of Creating a Nail-Cutting Solution

Custom Nail Cutter Volunteer Engineering Freedom SOlutions Australia Innovative Design Customised Assistive Technology NDIS 2

In the assistive technology sector, sometimes the most profound impacts come from addressing the simplest of tasks. One such task, often taken for granted, is the act of cutting one’s fingernails. At Freedom Solutions, we were recently tasked to create a customised solution – a fingernail cutting device that is operated by a foot lever. 

The Problem

For many, cutting fingernails is a weekly routine. However, for one of our clients living with a brachial plexus injury, this task becomes a significant challenge. The brachial plexus is a complex network of nerves connecting the spinal cord to the shoulder, arm, and hand. An injury to this network can severely limit upper limb function, making bilateral tasks like nail cutting nearly impossible. One of our clients, living with this injury, approached us with a goal: to independently cut their own fingernails using the accessible range of movement in their feet.

The Solution: Design

The initial design phase involved understanding the client’s specific needs and limitations. Collaborating closely with the client’s Occupational Therapist, we brainstormed various designs that would allow the client to use their feet to operate nail clippers. The challenge was to create a mechanism that was both functional and comfortable for the client.

Volunteer Jim Barrett stepped in with an innovative idea. He envisioned a system where the nail clippers would be mounted on a hand rest, connected to a foot-operated mechanism. The design would allow the client to position their hand and finger comfortably while using their foot to operate the clippers.

A technical drawing of a mechanical device designed to assist with nail clipping. The drawing is detailed and includes labels for various parts such as the "Hand Rest," "Nail Clipper," "Left Foot Pedal," and "Right Foot Rest." The device appears to include a vertical adjustable pipe and a foot-operated mechanism. The drawing is created on graph paper, providing a clear and precise representation of the design.

The Solution: Production
With a design in mind, the production phase began. The nail clippers were mounted on a hand rest, adjusted to a comfortable height for sitting. These clippers were then connected to a pipe, which in turn was attached to a footplate. This footplate was designed with a pedal on the left side. The mechanism was such that pressing the foot pedal would lower the pipe, causing the nail clippers to close.

The production phase involved multiple iterations, ensuring that the mechanism was smooth, and the force required to operate the pedal was minimal. This was crucial to ensure that the client could use the device without any strain.

This innovation is a shining example of how customised assistive technology can fill gaps that many commercial products cannot address: the unique needs of every individual.

We’re eagerly awaiting feedback from our client, as the solution is set to be delivered this week. Stay tuned for more updates!

Custom Nail Cutter Volunteer Engineering Freedom SOlutions Australia Innovative Design Customised Assistive Technology NDIS 1

Need a Customised Solution?

Is there a product you need that’s not available on the market? Our highly skilled volunteers at Freedom Solutions Australia can help! Fill out the enquiry form to begin your journey to a more independent life.

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Discover more unique solutions that we’ve created in past years.

Want to Volunteer?

Freedom Solutions Australia has over 250 volunteers across NSW and VIC, transforming the lives of individuals living with disability every day. Learn more about becoming a Volunteer with Freedom Solutions Australia here.

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