Thermotherapy and Vibration Therapy

Using therapy to reduce arthritic pain is another way that can help those who suffer with every day tasks. My research has led me to vibration and heat therapy (Thermotherapy), where the user would wear something that would provide heat or vibration to the joints in their hands or feet to relieve any pain.


It has been proven that alternating between heating and cooling pads can relieve issues that are caused by arthritis ( 


Heat glove.jpg


The glove above, called “Thermoskin Thermal Arthritic Gloves” are made of thermal fabric to keep the hands warm, whilst leaving the finger tips out to provide the user with grip and mobility whilst wearing them.

Some forms of Thermotherapy use heated pads to warm.


Venture hear uses FIR (Far Infra Red) Technology pads to directly send warming infra red waves to the effected muscles in the hand to provide the heat needed to relive pain from that area. This work by getting the FIR radiation deep into the muscle, in some cases down to the bone, to increase heat and improve the blood flow through that area of the body. The following happens when using this technology:

  • Accelerate healing time
  • Reduces stress
  • Increase blood flow to tissue and muscles
  • Provide extended pain relief
  • Increase ease of movement
  • Provide relief from muscle spasms                                                         (

More versions of this product are below:


Vibration Therapy:

The other form of product therapy comes in the form of vibrations. Similar to Thermotherapy, vibration therapy work by to increase the blood flow and reducing  pain of any muscle groups effected by arthritis; however this wok by covering he effect area with a controlled amount of vibration. Firstly, “applying gentle vibrations to stimulate muscles and ligaments to increase blood circulation. Secondly, the vibrations serve as a sensory distraction, disrupting pain signals that are constantly traveling from your body to your brain and replacing them with gentle, massaging sensations” (

These products above are for the hand, elbow and knee and use vibration technology to help with muscle pain. There are made from cotton materials and are said to be a replacement for taking large amounts of medication.

vib glove 2


As shown in the image above, this design has been done to make it easy to use and comfortable to wear:

  • Vibrations aid in pain relief
  • Provides mild compression to enhance blood circulation
  • Anti-slip design features positive affirmations
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Cotton material allows skin to breathe
  • Available in Small, Medium and Large.

In Summary:

This technology has showed me that I could incorporate heating and vibration in my designs to make using my product easier and more comfortable for the user. When a final design is reached, further research will be needed to see how I can put this technology into it and possibly combining the different kinds of therapy depending on what kind of product i make. For instance if I am to design a jug for carrying water, using vibrations won’t necessarily be the smartest idea as it could lead to lots of spilled liquids!


The Power of Facebook and Surveys

So from the previous group meeting, I was informed that good, credible research, was needed from the people who my product will be aimed at. I decided to create a survey and reach out to those who live with arthritis. Here is the link to this survey:

I was informed that the research is only credible if at least 30 responses were obtained from the survey, so I reached out to a group on Facebook for those who suffer with arthritis (for the purpose of this research they requested to stay anonymous at this point). because of the power of Facebook I was able to amass 151 response, 131 of those were people who suffered with arthritis. This is what their responses showed me:

131 respond

The main focus of the survey was to find out who was the main sufferers and whether or not this primary research matched with the statistics of the secondary research. This stated that those most vulnerable were woman aged 45 and over, my survey proved this, that the majority of those responses were females over the age of 45.

The next question related to the products they use every day and which of these caused them issues every time they were used. This is what my survey showed:

136 prodcuts

It shows that the use of 26 different every products are effected by the lack of fine motor skills in arthritis, with most of the respondent saying that they are unable or find it difficult to use openers, cutlery and squeezing bottles.

The final part of the survey, I wanted to understand what gross motor movements were effected by the illness. Gross motor skills are the opposite to fine motor, where they require large muscle groups like the legs, and the arms for such things as walking, standing, and sitting down. My survey showed the following:

39 motor

The results showed that the majority of sufferers struggled with using the stairs, going for a wash of simply getting out of bed in the morning.

The next stage of my design process will be developing this research into ideas that could solve the issues raised by this survey. From the feedback given to me, I must develop a wide range of concepts that will cover all areas of the project. Looking at things that could help with both fine and gross motor skills.

Further feedback from toady’s group meeting was the following:

  • Think future thinking – what about using robotics and new age technology, and bringing it into the every day.
  • Understanding women’s perspective if designing for females – do woman have a lower grip on object compared to men in general.
  • Go an get some clay models of hands for research.
  • Produce an info graphic for the research I have acquired.

All of this will be thought of for the next portion of this project as I aim to further understand the issues raised in my research and best to solve them.

Material Research

Almost a eureka moment thanks to Dycem materials! Dycem is a polymeric compound that uses non-woven fabric coated with the non-slip properties. Below is collection of images of Dycem and what products the material is already part of.

Dycem images.png

(Dycem, 2017)

Dycem is :

  • Non-Slip
  • Long Lasting
  • Antimicrobial
  • Simple to use
  • Non Toxic
  • Latex Free

This makes it the perfect material to help reduce the need for fine motor skills in the hands of those suffer with arthritis. The simplest idea I can think of here is to replace all appliance handles with this material so that less grip is needed to just hold it. This material is also fairly affordable as the reel shown in the top right hand images is only £11.99 and can be cut into any shape desired by the user (


Another positive for this materials is the Antimicrobial properties of the product that can  be made by combing Silver ion-based antimicrobial products from BioMaster that can stop the effect of many forms of harmful organisms (

It is also shown that Dycem strive to produce materials that are environmentally friendly that can be recycled, add that to the estimated long life of the product and it can assumed that this product with create a sustainable future for all involved. “At Dycem, we are committed to always improving our manufacturing processes, and we are striving towards making our products as recyclable as possible.” (

(iStock, 2017) / (Allfreedownload, 2017) / (Tangent, 2017) 

The only negative for me is the aesthetic of the material, I can see that when added to certain products it gives them a clinical feel and this may lead to some people who suffer from arthritis to not want t purchase these items due to the fact that it make other more aware that they are suffering, which in some cases can be a psychologically distressing matter.

no medical

(Mozdex, 2017)  

So to conclude, I have learned that this product is Affordable, environmentally friendly, improves grip and can easily be implemented with hygienic properties. Moving on from this I aim to develop my idea with this material in mind and see if it would be possible to implement the material without making anything look to medical.

Product Analysis and Fine Motor Skills

I think I have found what could be known as competitors of the grip market. OXO good grips are currently one of the leading brands that focus on perfect ergonomics for the average person, not necessarily those witch arthritis, but better ergonomics is always the way forward for any product.

OXO brand (John Lewis, 2017) (Amazon, 2017) (Lakeland, 2017) (House of Fraser, 2017)

The collage above shows the range of products that OXO currently have. It’s clear to she that the usability and ergonomics have been thought through in detail and after purchasing and using a few of their products I managed to find the following:

  • Excellent Ergonomics
  • Great H.C.D features
  • Light weight
  • Easy to read
  • Relieves excess strain on the wrist
  • Simplistic Design

However this was countered by the fact that I could find any reference to the sustainable factors of these products and that I am left to conclude that they are made from non-recyclable materials through and non-recyclable manufacturing processes. On top of this the usability of these products for people with arthritis would not be ideal. This is due to the amount of fine motor skills that are still required to operate the products.

Fine motor skills are the small movements that are done done by the body, an example of this is using cutlery or moving small objects. These all relate to the joints in the fingers, toes and wrists. ( . In arthritis, it has been proven that there is a distinct loss of fine motor skills (Dr Kari Kauranen) This means that the motion of picking up and using the OXO products or any other brand of kitchen utensil would cause difficulty for those whose fine motor skills have been decreased.

hand held up(

Another set of products that I have found in my research, use a simple strap to attach handled products to the users hand so that the user does not have to apply much grip to their utensils.

(GripSolutions, 2017) / (EasyHold, 2017)

These products work best at the removing this need fr a lot of fine motor skills. as well as the following:

  • A great multi functioning use.
  • Simple to use.
  • Comfortable ergonomics.

However just like above, these products come with some negatives:

  • Affordability.
  • Have to be put onto painful hands.
  • Restricted to things with simple handles.

The GripSolutions handle is on the market for approximately £30 and the easy hold stands at approximately £38. This made me wonder why these products have to be so expensive for what they are and if it would be possible to find a material and process that could make it more accessible for those who cant afford much.

Dull light bulb


So here we are the first stage of ideas coming along, my light bulb feels a little dull at this moment so this must improve with more ideas!

From this research it is clear that I must find a way to change how objects are used and why we need to grip things to use them? The solution should fully consider the sustainable applications and what happens to the product at the end of life.

Viva 1, October 4th

In the midst of our second week back and a Viva style presentation in front of our piers and tutor has already been complete. The aim of this viva was for us to define the issues and the gap in the market that we have found for our chosen project.

From last weeks blog where I was unsure what area of research to go down, I have decided that looking into arthritis will be the best choice. Here are the reasons why:

  • Approximately 350 million people worldwide have arthritis in some form. (MedicineNet, 2017)
  • Workers with arthritis often experience restrictions in functioning at work and participation in employment.(Vilsteren, 2012. )
  • Symptoms include:
    • Fatigue
    • Joint pain, stiffness, swelling, redness
    • Loss of joint motion
    • Polyarthritis (multiple affected joints)
    • Limping
    • Deformity
    • Symmetric
    • Anaemia
    • Fever              (William C. Shiel Jr., 2017)


( (Arthritis (

Above is a small collection of images that refer to some of the severe symptoms of those who have the illness. It’s clear that their are lots of areas that be researched to assist the day to day living of those who suffer and possibly come up with a way to reduce the pain that they go through.

So to sum up this project i devised an initial brief to help ground my project to something I can focus on:

  • Due to the issues raised by the rising amounts of people suffering with arthritis and the lack of affordable products to help. I aim to further research and develop a product to help assist in the day to day living of those who suffer from arthritis.
    • The outcome will either be a large product, like a piece of furniture or          apparatus; or a small product, like a kitchen utensil or other hand held device.
    • The product should help to highlight issues to the general public about the problems caused when suffering with arthritis.

The first piece of information i was given to help me in my design process was to refer to inclusive design, as a way to create the best possible outcome for this brief . “Inclusive design is about delivering an outstanding user experience.” ( And that is what I now aim to do!

At the end of the Viva,notes were given to help assist us in our design thinking and what would be best to do next.

  • Create a survey, with over 30 responses to provide a credible source of data, to hekp understand how to best aim my solution.
  • Perform a product analysis and reverse engineer products from competitors of this brief to understand what is already out in the market and if it would be possible to  develop any products that may show issues in
  • Understand the material choice for the products by collecting samples and research on the best materials for things like, non-slip and hygiene and ergonomics
  • Use this research to define why some of these products are expensive.
  • Revise the brief to be more focused to a certain product

Whats next…

To take the notes from above, apply them to all aspects of my design process and start to produce ideas that may solve this brief.