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Graduating student’s invention hits the ground running

Melissa Lang with her Better Push Adapted Handles prototype.
Image Credit: Contributed
May 06, 2015 - 8:39 AM

KELOWNA - An Okanagan College student’s ingenuity has the potential to provide running parents with a better experience as they push their children’s strollers or wheelchairs while jogging.

Melissa Lang undertook a capstone graduating project as part of her Therapist Assistant Diploma program at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus. An avid runner, Lang was inspired by witnessing the determination a parent had in pushing their wheelchair-bound child across a race finish line. The child’s elated glee at being a part of a race motivated Lang to apply the skills she learned while studying the program and combining them with her mechanical background earned from construction experience.

“I realized that there was an opportunity to help runners gain a better form, keep their arms swinging, and ultimately affect the power they run with while pushing a wheelchair,” shares Lang. “My dad was a mechanic, and I always have liked tinkering with things. It was a bit of trial and error, and I’m still making some adjustments, but there is real potential.”

The prototype, built by Lang using a recycled elliptical machine, sees attachable arms that easily lock onto any stroller or wheelchair without changing their structure. Runners are able to push while keeping natural swinging arm-motions that reduces the risk of injury by keeping the body moving fluidly.

Safety is a prime consideration for an innovative design that involves children, Lang comments the best seal of approval came from her brother being willing to test the stroller with his daughter (her niece) in it.

Lang plans to continue to tinker with the prototype, and while there are no immediate plans for production, she’s not necessarily ruling it out. In the meantime, she is focused on her career search, where she is looking for opportunities in the field of occupational rehabilitation so that she can help those working in construction to recover and return to their jobs post-injury.

A nationally accredited program, the Therapist Assistant Diploma at Okanagan College uniquely offers assistant-level training in all three disciplines: physiotherapy, recreational, and occupational therapy.

“Melissa truly applied the content learned in a variety of courses to improve human mobility and prevent injury through her biomechanical and inventive adaptation. This is one of the reasons she received the Bonnie Thiessen Award voted by her classmates which recognizes excellence in a graduating student,” said Jennifer Stephenson, Chair Okanagan College’s Therapist Assistant Diploma program.

Among the other graduating students’ capstone projects presented were a pediatric hospital gown and a mental health support website that uses art to help remove stigma around mental illness.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Therapist Assistant Diploma program. The two-year program includes 16-weeks of practicum experience for students in a clinical setting. Since its launch in 1990 (then known as the Rehabilitation Assistant Certificate Program), the program has conferred credentials to 551 graduates.

Celebrations marking the silver anniversary, and recognizing 25 years of graduates like Lang, will be held throughout the coming year, including an alumni reunion in the fall.

To find out more about the program, including an interview with Melissa Lang, view this video or visit the website

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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