Low cost adaptive clothing for women suffering from impaired motion
Role : Researcher, Product Designer
Sneha Sankar for the hand-lettered logo
Sampurna Das & Shohini Das for textile related help
Bhushitendu Bhatt for the photoshoot
How do you design for small yet special needs?
While no two disabilities are the same, temporarily impaired motion of hand/ arm can turn the intimate activity of wearing clothes into a Herculean task, especially for the Indian women. How can the patients be prepared for these small temporary challenges? Odh ('to wrap' in Hindi) re-looks at the design of a ‘kurta’, one of the most commonly worn attire by the Indian women, to open new possibilities of clothing for women suffering from impaired motion.
A bone fracture is a medical condition in which there is damage in the continuity of the bone. 200 million women worldwide suffer from osteoporosis. There has been a 300% increase in fractures over past 3o years in Asia. Indians with 15% lower bone density are at a greater risk broken bones.
By 2020, estimated fractures recorded annually would be 6,00,000.
An orthopedic cast is a shell, frequently made from plaster, encasing a limb to stabilize and hold anatomical structures most often a broken bone in place until healing is confirmed.
Draping involves one hand going behind the back to drape the shirt on to the other shoulder while the other hand pulls the shirt. This task is arduous and causes discomfort.
The clothes can’t always be worn entirely. Often, the buttons break under the weight of the cast. The plaster rubs against the skin and causes rashes.
Buttoning and manipulating the small closures is painful. Finding the right button and its hole, pushing the button through and then pulling the button out is strenuous.
Adaptive clothing and aids are engineered to meet the needs of individuals with limited mobility who need assistance in dressing. However, in India, a large section of patients from lower economic strata cannot afford to buy the adaptive clothing aids/ solutions only for the time of recovery.
The inspiration for this design came from Furoshiki, a traditional Japanese wrapping cloth, used to wrap clothes, gifts, or other goods. What if the garment is wrapped around the body?
The first prototype had the front and the back panel joined at the shoulder. The design could be flipped and used for either of the arms. A strap helped to hold the shoulder of the garment and also doubled as a sling.
However, it still involved slightly cumbersome actions of buttoning under the arms.
The second concept is simplified further. It consists of two main parts with minimum stitching along with merely four buttons. It has a separate neck/collar part can be easily distinguished from the rest of the parts. The two flaps are wrapped around in the front and fastened with press buttons.
This garment, ‘Odh’ is created to meet all the needs of an individual with limited mobility. It re-looks at the design of a ‘kurta’, one of the most commonly worn attire by the Indian women, to open new possibilities of clothing for women suffering from impaired motion. It helps and prepares the patients for smaller challenges. Unlike other adaptive clothing, it does not differ in its appearance from traditional clothing yet remains fully functional. This ensures that it can be used during and after the recovery.
This design of garment is inclusive of all different types of users, body type, keeping in mind the cultural preferences (sleeves for example). The design is free and is also made open source. It can be adopted and stitched to any body type, incorporating any of the existing styles.