Carpal Tunnel : Special Designed Handles

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) by definition is a numbness and tingling in the hand and arm caused by a pinched median nerve in the wrist, which often causes the patient to have weak grip, and experience pain when holding something at angles that put pressure on the joints and nerve endings. This is a special handle design for a pair of general use scissors, specific to the needs of a user with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

This was a project at RISD, and the general prompt was to design a pair of scissors handle. I wanted to focus on the ergonomics, tension and pressure aspect of the handle, and the idea of designing for users with carpal tunnel syndrome came during the research stage. The final prototype was created from high-density urethane foam, coated in white, to emphasize on the fact that our design focus is on the function and engineering. Colors can often be distracting without a specific purpose (and it does not have a specific purpose in this situation.

Most of the tools are prototyped by hand, using foam, wood, cardboard, etc. because it was very important to get a feeling of the actual scissors. The last version was refined using rhinoceros to get a sense of the aesthetics, colors and material texture.

People generally responded positively, although there are questions raised regarding sizing for people with different hand sizes, spring mechanism, etc. This was an interesting assignment in terms of helping me and my teammates to understand aspects of medical design, and to gain experience on analog/traditional prototyping techniques rather than overly relying on digital CAD iterations.


Lucy Yip

Hi, I am Lucy. I was born in Hong Kong, raised in Beijing, China. I am currently a student at Rhode Island School of Design majoring in Industrial Design, with two additional concentrations – History, Philosophy and Social Sciences (HPSS) with a focus on Media Culture, and Computation, Technology and Culture (CTC). As for my philosophy on art and design: I believe in the intersection between Art, Science, Design and Engineering in consideration of knowledge, information, behavior and utility. To me, design is not only about satisfying needs, nor only about a pretty appearance. I am simply interested in how creative thinking and design can create possibilities for making positive changes in the world.