Graduate student studied material thermal responses for wheelchair users
Leslee Weible, a graduate student studying Apparel Product Development & Merchandising Technology, studied the thermal responses of different materials for wheelchair users
Leslee Weible, a graduate student studying Apparel Product Development & Merchandising Technology, studied the thermal responses of different clothing ensembles for wheelchair users to improve adaptive clothing options. Weible’s research “focused on understanding the effects different materials have on heat generation while using a wheelchair through thermal imaging.”
To collect her data, a wheelchair was set up with a thermal camera and computer. As a control experiment, Weible used a long sleeve cotton t-shirt for baseline data. From there, three different layering pieces of different materials were tested, such as cotton flannel, polyester fleece, and a nylon winter coat. The subject sat in the wheelchair for five minutes with a picture being taken before and after of the subject’s back and wheelchair back.
Thermal images above with temperature scale of before and after wheelchair use (respectively), captured using the thermal camera.
Weible chose to use this area to study because her grandfather is wheelchair bound. This led to Weible thinking about how to help him be more comfortable, which then led Weible to wonder how product design can be changed by giving designers “a quantitative look into how their decisions can affect the end user.” Weible hopes her research will benefit wheelchair users by helping inform designers about how materials can affect thermal comfort, while also being functional.
This story is brought to you by the Office of Research and Graduate Studies.