• Understanding the Problem

    Early on, our team identified that people with disabilities often face challenges in day to day life that can be improved from simple design changes.  We realized that we needed to conduct research about how design is already being used to enhance their quality of life.  Early on, we decided to focus on improving accessiblity to sports, and from this, we identified several key stakeholders. We spoke with National Sports Center for the Disabled and Craig Hospital, as well as several individual athletes with disabilities to help us understand the design challenges that these groups currently face. 

  • Interviews

  • National Sports Center for the Disabled

    Scott Olson, one of the employees of NSCD, spoke with us about how the program allows individuals with disabilites to participate in athletics using adapted equipment as well as varying assistants that volunteer or work with NSCD.  NSCD provides adapted access to downhill and cross country skiing, horseback riding, rock climbing, archery, sailing, white water rafting, and kayaking. NSCD's Winter Park Office, which focuses on adaptive winter sports, gives over 3000+ adaptive ski lessons every year for ages 5 and up. He spoke about several design challenges that this organization faces:

        -Equipment is expensive and oftentimes not adjustable

        -People have varying levels of disabilities that equipment must adapt to

        -Participants must feel safe, but also feel accomplished while participaing in activities 

  • Craig Hospital

    Craig Hospital is both an inpatient and outpatient hospital located in Denver that specializes in brain and spinal injuries.  They use different designs to both rehabilitate patients as well as assist them in transitioning into a new lifestye that will help them improve their quality of life.  Deepa Dierickx, an occupational therapist, spoke with us about the design challenges that they face due to the changing nature of their requirements: 

        -Every patient requires different adaptations

        -There is a challenge in finding balance between being independent and the difficulty in performing a task

        -Quality of life and safety are critical in every design

  • Nick Catanzarite

    We had the privilege of conducting a phone interview with para-olympic monoski medalist, Nick Catanzarite.  He provided valuable feedback regarding his road to becoming a professional monoskier.  

    "I spent 6 years using rental equipment learning how to monoski before I became a competitive athelte, and my transition to customized equipment made the difference between moderately enjoying the sport and it becoming my life's passion."

    Nick heavily endorses the concept of making rental ski equipment more adjustable for each individual, as he believes that having a well fitting monoski can entirely change a person's experience and perspective about the sport. 

  • Dr. Brian Grewe (University of Denver)

    Dr. Brian Grewe a communications professor at the University of Denver gave input on how to make the seat as accessible and comfortable for a person with disabilities. Dr. Grewe was paralyzed in a car accident while in college. His experiences with assistive technologies, such as wheelchairs and wheelchair seats, allowed him to give an insight into what would make our project successful. As well as giving us further knowledge on ideas that have been both successful and unsuccessful in the past, such as the use of air for cushioning the seat and how it has changed the way he uses his chair in his day to day life. 

  • Susanna Henney (LIM359)

    Susanna is Emma's aunt with a below the knee amputation. She is a large participant in multiple athletic activities and a part of amputee support groups including LIM359. Through an interview, we were able to learn more about the experience of living with prosthetics and the difficulties faced when participating in sport. Susanna competes in triathlons. She really enjoys running, swimming, and biking and trains regularly. The main difficulties she and many of her fellow amputee athletes are faced with are cost, waterproofing, and ease of switching between sport. Prosthetics for sports are very expensive which limits the number of activities that Susanna and other amputees can take part. Also, prosthetics are most commonly not waterproof. Swimming and showering are most often experienced without a prosthetic, but this makes the process very difficult. Removing and applying a prosthetic is difficult and takes a long time. This is a big issue for Susanna in her triathlons as they are timed competitions. Susanna also mentioned that clipping in and out of her bike with the cleats currently available is a very difficult task for her and other amputees. It involves a twisting motion, that she is unable to manipulate without getting off the bike and can be dangerous.

  • Research

  • Amputee Sport Participation

    It is estimated that 1 in 200 hundred people suffer from limb loss or impairment. In the United States alone 1.7 million people have a limb amputation or impairment [1]. In a study performed by LimbPower, it was found that 78% of people with amputations partake in sports and 83% of people wish to enjoy more sports or physical activity in the future. The breakdown of current sports participation was shared as follows [2]:

  • [2]

  • The study found that some of the top limiting factors in sports are prosthetic limitations, comfort, and fear of falling. The sports that those with amputations were most interested in trying in the future included [2]:

  • [2]





  • [5]




  • [6]




  • Nick Catanzarite
    Nick Catanzarite


  • Dr. Grewe
    Dr. Grewe
  • Susanna Henney
    Susanna Henney

This portfolio last updated: 19-Nov-2018 4:42 PM