Joint mobility and inclusive design challenges

The aim of this research study was to understand and evaluate the effect of different factors including age, gender, disabilities and medical conditions on joint mobility. Joint mobility data from a group of 66 people from a previously existing database has been re-analysed. Twenty four participants had disabilities and 42 participants were considered to be ‘able bodied’ with no recognised disability. For each individual, 18 joint range of motion values were measured and an ANOVA test was employed to demonstrate the influence of the selected factors on joint range of motion. Post Hoc (Tukey) tests were also performed to gain deeper insight into significance levels and correlations between the factors. The results clearly indicate that joint ROM significantly decreases (p<0.05) with increasing age for arm abduction, arm medial and lateral rotation, wrist flexion and wrist adduction. Moreover, people with disabilities (wheelchair users and arthritis sufferers) showed a considerable decrease in joint mobility for arm flexion, arm abduction, arm lateral rotation, elbow flexion, elbow supination, wrist extension and wrist flexion. The results also highlight that designing products, equipment, services or workplaces against 5th and 95th percentile criteria is unable to provide appropriate and necessary support for achieving the objective of design inclusiveness. Rather designers should have a deep insight of the data variations at a predesign phase so that more appropriate and informed design decisions can be made that are more likely to be acceptable for a broad range of the population.