Open Design of Medical Devices – PhD; Matt Dexter

Matt Dexter profile 02

What is assistive technology? What is Telerehabilitation? Both are types of products that are used by people to reduce a disability’s impact on their quality of life. Assistive technology might take the form of a long-term aid such as a pair of spectacles; whereas telerehabilitation devices are used as part of a rehabilitation program after a disabling injury or condition (the SMART project, for example).

As the NHS in the UK undergoes a period of change, more and more health services are moving into the community from hospital wards. At the same time, due to medical advances we as a population are steadily growing older; changes in society mean obesity and other risks associated with sedentary lifestyles are on the increase. As this happens, there is an opportunity to develop products and services that enable Healthcare Professionals to serve growing numbers of patients in a domestic setting. The problem is not just a technical one, since a piece of equipment might function flawlessly, but if the user rejects the product can it be labelled a success? This is where design plays a part, since empathy is an intrinsic part of the process of ‘designing’ something. This act of putting yourself into the situation of the end user can be difficult, but assistive technology and telerehabilitation devices absolutely require this insight.

Design of assistive technologies

After graduating from the Product Design course in 2007 and having a placement at the design futures consultancy in Sheffield, Matthew enrolled on the Industrial Design MA course here at Sheffield Hallam University; focusing on telerehabilitation and working on a live project for the SMART consortium. Matthew is interested in the design of healthcare products, specifically looking at how design can be used in the development cycle to produce products that are meaningful and provide an excellent experience for the end user. Upon graduating from his MA, Matthew has been working as a research assistant for the User Centred Healthcare Design group on a project to redesign Medical Outpatients services for older people. This experience has informed the direction of his intended PhD study here at Sheffield Hallam University.

Project updates

Lab4Living, Sheffield Hallam University,
Furnival Building, 153 Arundel Street, Sheffield, S1 2NU
Phone 0114 225 6753 | Fax 0114 225 6931