Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals

Madonna patient finds greater independence with custom device

September 27, 2023

Madonna’s Institute for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering is known for creating patient-centered, technological solutions. And its latest innovation, a metal doorstop with a collapsible tripod hook, is no exception. For Madonna patient Taylor Peter, this small-yet-mighty device opens up doors and, along with it, her world.

“I don’t like to rely on people, and I want to be as independent as possible,” Taylor said.

The Southeast Community College student lives with several medical conditions and uses a power wheelchair to get around. Taylor came to Madonna after a surgery that left her physically weak earlier this summer.

“When I first got here, they asked me about things I struggled with and my goals,” Taylor said. “It sort of started as a joke, but I’ve had many experiences where I’ve gotten stuck in [public] bathrooms. I’m not strong enough to pull the doors open. When I shared that, they took it very seriously.”

At first, Emily Kouma, OTR/L, one of Taylor’s occupational therapists at Madonna, devised several strategies for the 20-year-old. When these maneuvers didn’t work for Taylor, Kouma turned to Madonna’s onsite engineering team at the Institute.

“I suggested a sort of doorstop that she could place when she began to exit the public restroom door which would allow her sufficient access to be able to continue to open the door with her power chair,” Kouma said. “Once we had the idea in mind and had practiced with our mock-up, I reached out to Arash and the Institute and described the device that Taylor and I were looking for.”

From there, Arash Gonabadi, MS, Ph.D., the Institute’s assistant research director, designed and created Taylor’s unique doorstop and its complementary tripod hook. Partially weighted and made of metal, the doorstop features a small metal loop on top and a non-slip bottom. Meanwhile, the collapsible tripod features an adjustable metal hook at the end. Once Gonabadi had finished building his prototype, the three met to test it out in a therapy session. Taylor practiced placing the doorstop near the bathroom doors and then used the expandable tripod hook to pick it up off the floor.

“I thought it was really cool,” Taylor said. “I was shocked how well it worked and all the thought that went into [making] it.” Kouma agreed.

“Arash made our design come to life,” Kouma said. “It's taken a little practice on her part to master it, but it has been a great solution to her goal of independence.”

Meanwhile, Taylor remains incredibly grateful for the Madonna staff who made this tool possible.

“Pretty much everyone I’ve worked with here, I’ve bonded with,” she said. “The majority of people here have that thinking brain. Like, ‘we don’t have anything that would help right now, so what can we create?’ They all just have creative minds here.”

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