The Aquatic Rehabilitation Aid

Document Type


Publication Date



WPI, MQP, Assistive, Technology, Resource, Center, ATRC, Therapeutic, Assistant, Stability


The goal of this MQP was to design and develop a device that can provide support and stability to students who participate in therapeutic gait training using the buoyant forces of water. During aquatic rehabilitation, students often have difficulty in maintaining stability as they walk and sometimes use a land walker for stability, however land walkers are not intended for use in the pool and can be difficult to use. The MQP group worked with a group of seven students at the Massachusetts Hospital School to represent a range of the body sizes that the device must accommodate. A list of design specifications were determined and included: the weight of the device should be greater than the buoyant force on the device so that it rests on the floor of the pool, it must be made of non-corrosive materials to prevent oxidation, it should resist tipping when in use, and the components of the device (straps, handgrips, height level) should be adjustable to accommodate several body types. The design team developed a prototype of a ring walker, which involved a frame, armrests, a belt, and four wheels. The prototype was then evaluated in a series of tests that determined its volume, weight, center of mass, and the buoyant force acting on the device. Testing of the device by a rehabilitation engineer and a student at the Massachusetts Hospital School indicated that the device was generally stable, but the height adjustment pins were difficult to manipulate. The final device was created by incorporating the suggestions from the testing process and staff and students at the Massachusetts Hospital School were satisfied with the stability that the device provided when used in conjunction with aquatic rehabilitation.