Case Studies

Switch adapt toys repaired

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Steps to access bathroom sink

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A young lad with Cerebral palsy required access to his sink, so he could wash his hands on his own. His parents are very focused on enabling him to be as independent as possible, and thus had lots of input in to the final design of the steps. The hand rails were made height adjustable, so they can grow with him if required, and powder coated white to match the steps and the bathroom.

After climbing down the steps on his own, as shown in the picture, he looked me in the eye and said “thank you for my steps, I will be able to wash my hands on my own now”. Endorsements don’t come any better than that, not to mention the feeling of joy felt by all concerned!

Charlie’s Switch Adapted Playstation

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Charlie has a diagnosis of spinal muscular atrophy type2. This is a neurological condition, which had resulted in significant muscle weakness. Charlie is fully dependent on his parents for all care and play activities. He drives an electric wheelchair for mobility.

 He was having great difficulties using a game console controller. Due to his condition most of the buttons on the controller were inaccessible and required a carer to activate. MERU designed and made an insert to go on top of a specialist table to accommodate two switch arrays and joysticks allowing the boy to enjoy the console completely independently.
All the controls (switch arrays and joysticks) connected to the insert by hook-and-loop fastener, allowing for adjustment and the whole setup can be removed at once so that the table can be used for any other activity.

 Quote from Charlie’s mum

It has made such a difference to Charlie’s life having a playstation 3 controller adapted by Meru. Charlie has a condition called spinal muscular atrophy which causes severe muscle weakness and is a full time wheelchair user, he struggles with most day to day tasks due to his muscle wastage.

Charlie loves to play his playstation and used to have great difficulty pressing the buttons and reaching the back buttons on an original controller and he used to get very frustrated at not being able to play his games properly. He would always need help from an adult and get very disheartened.

He can now play all his favourite games independently and with ease. He can now play with his friends online too which he was unable to do before.

Clive’s Chin Controller

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University graduate Clive was referred to MERU in for custom design and manufacture of a chin-controller and supporting arm.

Clive, who has cerebral palsy, wanted to be able to access a combination of devices including a PC, his environmental controller and his powered wheelchair, whenever he wanted to and without having to ask for assistance.

The project was a complex one but Clive was very pleased with the resulting equipment. Since then MERU has repaired, maintained and ultimately replaced his equipment with an upgraded design.

Clive is, in some ways, typical of many MERU clients – once they have a unique piece of custom-made equipment they need MERU to keep it in good, safe working order.

Although MERU is a charity for children and young people, the relationship with Clive – and many other young people like him – is likely to be a lifelong one. In Clive’s case this is particularly true as he became one of our valued trustees.

“Whilst at university my control arm was indispensable in supporting my studies – and continues to be now I am in the world of employment. It allows me to operate my electric wheelchair, television, HI-FI, computer and page turner wirelessly, through a mounted chin control. The ability to switch between these devices has given me a much higher degree of independence than I had previously. I can now choose when to relax and when to work, without referring to anyone else for assistance. This has supported my social life, which is heavily dependent on the use of the internet. My control arm is also extremely reliable and robust, which is crucially important on the pavements of Central London.” Clive

Beth’s Zip Pulls

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We were approached to create an attachable zip pull that would allow Beth to use a number of zips in order to promote her independence and reduce frustration.

Beth, who has Cerebral Palsy, had difficulty with the fiddly nature of zips and could not grip the small pull to apply the amount of force needed.

We knew that the zip pull had to be non-toxic, easy to attach and non slip, washer and dryer safe as well as the right size – not too small to make it difficult for Beth, but not too large so it was obtrusive.

Beth also wanted colours that would match her clothes and accessories, so that she could continue to be just as stylish and co-ordinated.

The team came up with two prototypes for Beth to view. She came into our workshops to discuss their suitability and how we could improve the shape, length of fixing cord and size. Beth then took both prototypes away to test before production.

“It has made an enormous difference to me as for the first time I could ‘do’ a zip independently – brilliant job MERU!” Beth

Eventually, we made 9 different coloured zip pulls for Beth which she was very happy with. She also went away and conducted an evaluation among her friends to see if they would also benefit from using a zip pull. She concluded that given the right price and size, this would be well worth producing as one of our ready-made products.

You can now buy Zipz from our online shop!

“Useful, tactile, washable, brilliant. A job well done. No more key rings that have rusted and have to be removed” Liz, Beth’s Mum

Mia’s Adapted Bike

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Like most girls her age Mia dreamed of riding her own pushbike, but due to her tiny size she couldn’t reach the pedals on even the smallest bike.

The little Mia was missing the opportunity to ride a bike, but fortunately her family knew MERU could help because we had made Mia’s mum a miniature bike when she was a child.

MERU took Mia’s anthropological measurements and was then able to adapt the push bike supplied by her parents. Our engineers cut down and welded the frame and pedals on Mia’s new bike so that she could achieve her dream.

As Mia asked to have her new bike coloured in pink, the frame was sent to Primus Quality Coatings in Croydon, who sprayed the frame in “vibrant pink” for free.

“We are extremely happy about the new bike. Thanks to MERU Mia can now have fun cycling just as her peers do.” Melissa, Mia’s mum

Calum’s Remote Control Car

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Calum, loves playing with his motor-control racing car but needed an alternative to his conventional remote control as he found it difficult to use.

Calum has cerebral palsy and hydrocephaly which makes it difficult for him to control his movement and can limit his independence.

We worked hard to find the most effective yet simple solution for Calum. We investigated a number of different options to enable Calum to be able to play safely with his remote car and eventually decided upon adapting a Moozi to work as the remote.

This worked by removing the transmitter from the original remote control, placing it into a new plain box and wiring a Moozi joystick to this device. This worked incredibly well for Calum as it gave him the control he needed to play with his favourite toy. The transmitter is connected to the Moozi by a wire so it can be tucked away safely under his wheelchair.

Lucy’s Piano Pedal Adaption

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University student Lucy, was an accomplished grade seven pianist before a serious illness left her paralysed from the waist down.

Lucy was very keen to return to playing and needed a device that would enable her to activate the expression pedal of her baby grand piano.

Lucy’s disability was caused by a very rare condition called arteriovenous malformation (AVM) – a tangle of abnormal blood vessels within her spinal cord.

After her illness she was still able to play the piano keys but could not use the expression foot pedal. Lucy and her parents spent a considerable time searching for a commercial product that would allow her to depress the expression piano foot pedal by some other means. Having had no success, the family turned to MERU and the project was taken on.

MERU’s design team created a custom-made wooden actuator box that would fit under the piano. This would automatically press the pedal while Lucy played. The biggest challenge for the engineers lay with how to enable Lucy to activate the device while playing – it needed to operate the actuator discreetly and accurately, responding to Lucy’s command.

A remote control system was adapted and, after extensive planning and in detailed discussion with Lucy, a tilt switch was fixed onto a pair of glasses. Although she has 20-20 vision, with the glasses on, Lucy can now tilt her head forward slightly while playing and trigger the actuator box to press down on the pedal at the correct time.

“Having spent a long time searching for a suitable appliance without any success, I was delighted when MERU agreed to help. Working with a great team, who consulted me at every stage of the design and manufacturing process, has enabled me to have a product with which I am very happy. My only problem is that I no longer have an excuse for being out of practice!” Lucy