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Students to design innovative garden tool to help stroke survivors

13 November 2010

Green-fingered stroke survivors could benefit from an innovative tool designed by students to allow them to carry out everyday tasks in the garden with ease.

Disabilities suffered as a result of stroke make it difficult for stroke survivors to use traditional gardening tools and students at Glyndŵr University have been challenged to develop a new device which suits their needs.

Teams of students will come up with concepts for the new tool as part of a competition organised by the university’s Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (CfEL) to celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week 2011, which runs from 15-21 November.

The winning design will be prototyped by TechSol UK, a product development company, and tested by the Stroke Association at its allotment in Wrexham.

Designs will be submitted at a one-off event on Monday 15 November, with the winning design being prototyped in early 2011.

Matthew Draycott, Enterprise Associate at Glyndŵr University, said: “We’re delighted to be working with the Stroke Association and TechSol UK to provide our students with an opportunity to work on a real-life project which could benefit thousands of stroke survivors.”

“Global Entrepreneurship Week is all about developing students’ entrepreneurial ability and this really is a fantastic chance to test their skills and potentially have their product idea taken to market.”

Problems which stroke survivors encounter in using ordinary garden tools include difficulty in handling small items such as secateurs and trowels, a result of problems with their fine motor control skills – their ability to make small muscle movements.

They also find it challenging to handle larger garden equipment as a result of diminished strength and memory loss means stroke survivors frequently forget where they’ve placed items.

The winning design will provide a successful solution to one or more of the problems faced by stroke survivors, taking into considerations such as colour, shape, size, grip and ease of use.

A spokesperson for the Stroke Association said: “We would like to thank both the students who are taking part and Glyndŵr University for organising the competition. It has the potential to improve the quality of life for the 10,000 people who have a stroke each year in Wales.

“Gardening has proved to be an effective form of therapy for stroke survivors, and the tools that students design will make this everyday activity easier and more accessible to people disabled by stroke.

“We are confident the winning tool will be of great benefit to stroke survivors and will help them along the path to rehabilitation and recovery.”

The design competition is one of more than 32,000 events worldwide expected to take place during Global Entrepreneurship Week.

The annual event, now in its sixth year, aims to inspire entrepreneurial activity, develop enterprise skills and open up new opportunities for people of all ages.

For more information visit www.gew.org.uk.

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