"How might we improve the toileting experience for wheelchair users?"
Enable Ireland is a non-profit organization and services provider working to support children, adults, and families living with disabilities.
OUR DESIGN SPACE
Our design space consisted of wheelchair users with varying levels of mobility ranging from paraplegic to quadriplegic. Due to the complexity of the issue, a wide range of stakeholders were revealed, most notably the wheelchair user, their family and support group, carers, government bodies, medical staff and equipment manufacturers.
Not many people are aware of the fact that if a catheter bag overfills it is not only potentially embarrassing for the user, it can also lead to serious health problems. If the user does not seek medical assistant quickly the urine can reflux back into the kidneys and can be fatal in extreme cases.
Lack of Independence
Due to their lack of mobility, many wheelchair users must rely on medical assistance when both checking and emptying their drainage bag. This severely limits the users level of independence and adds to the frustration associated with catheter uses.
After interviewing many stakeholders and conducting our own research, the team focused on the indwelling catheter connected to a drainage bag. This is almost universal for both para and tetraplegic and has been used for over 70 years with very little innovation during that time. Our findings informed us that there are four main issues involving the catheter and drainage bag.
Many catheter users are unable to check the fill level of their drainage bag due to lack of mobility and must rely on family or carers to check for them. However, if no one is present the wheelchair user can often get anxious as they are aware the bag is filling.
Cost and Impact
Catheter bags are made of a vinyl-like plastic and are deemed hazardous waste- therefore they cannot be recycled. It is recommended to change these devices frequently to prevent infections. The environmental and financial impact of single-use leg bags is therefore significant.
Check out our video detailing the problem
Our vision is of a world where wheelchair users face no more anxiety around their toileting experience than their able-bodied counterparts. Volyymi is an clear and intuitive package that wheelchair users of various levels of mobility can use and will provide them with independence and confidence - improving their overall well-being.
Measure Detect Inform Navigate
Volyymi is a discrete smart solution that measures the volume of urine in a catheter bag as well as determine the hydration levels of the person throughout the day.
This real-time information will be easily accessible through an interactive, easy to use app, allowing the user to personally tailor fullness and hydration alerts.
This information allows people to monitor their bag fullness and eliminate fears of overfilling. Hydration level monitoring allows users to maintain healthy hydration levels.
The solution can be easily attached to pre-existing catheter bags - requiring minimal alteration of current leg bag positioning.
The measurement container is used to measure the fullness of the catheter bag on the user. The device is housed within a holster which discreetly attaches to the users thigh under their clothing. A special foam lines the side in contact with user's leg to prevent pressure sores.
Sensors are used to monitor the hydration levels of the user throughout the day. Changes in the appearance of the urine can be used to advise the user of possible dehydration or urinary tract infection. This data is stored and relayed to the user to encourage proper hydration and promote a healthy immune system.
Different users require different equipment when using an accessible bathroom. Volyymi contains a navigation feature that guides our user to the nearest bathroom meeting their requirements. User reviews of bathrooms are shared between users of the Volyymi service, allowing our user access to the most up to date information
Volyymi device notifies the user about their bag fullness and their hydration. The app can also indicate when the bag will need to be emptied. The user's urine output and hydration levels are stored on the app to allow for potential use by a medical professional. The design and layout of the app is optimised for easy and intuitive use by users of varying levels of mobility.
Check out our working prototype
Relieves dependence on medics
Team interviewing our liaison, Geoff