Product development is about inventing
Compression stocking machines for wearers and carers
More than 300,000 people need to wear compression stockings every day and a large proportion of them need help from a partner, informal carer and/or home care provider. This dependence determines and limits the daily rhythm. The exertion of force and the load during putting on causes many injuries and a lot of absenteeism of caregivers.
Helpsoq approached us to find a solution for putting on compression stockings. With the challenge that putting on the stocking for a large group of users is simple and without effort.
“Our radical solution came after two years of research with professionals in phlebology and ergonomics. We also like to work with bandagists, dermatologists, occupational therapists and home care organizations. In the end, we developed the concept together with one of the best design agencies in the Netherlands, npk design in Leiden.”
co-founder of Helpsoq
HelpSoq wins the National Healthcare Innovation Award 2022 with conviction. Both the jury and the audience thought HelpSoq was the most innovative.
Thanks to the Helpsoq machine’s technology and ease of use, clients gain more control over their daily routine. If you can put on your own stockings, you no longer need to wait for a home care provider when getting up in the morning.
For institutional or home care providers, Helpsoq helps reduce everyday care tasks. Because the machine is easy to operate without making any physical exertion, it also helps prevent physical injuries and sick leave. Helpsoq pulls the stockings onto both legs in two minutes. This represents a time saving of more than 10 minutes per client. This time can be spent on other care tasks.
As a team of design engineers and model makers, we went through brainstorming, inventing, experimenting and prototyping to eventually build and test numerous models. The quickest approach for this is to think up a number of principles for how it could work, first build and test them in a simplified form, and then give them more of a design and detail at a later stage.
Our well-equipped modelling workshop provided great added value in this approach.
Every product innovation journey involves challenges that become apparent during the product development process. That is no different for Helpsoq. It is surprising how much force ends up being exerted on a compression stocking when putting it on. Our solution therefore needed to be a device capable of delivering a lot of power, whilst also being light to operate (because of the older target group). It did not take long to come up with the idea of a ring to put a foot through. A ring shape is strong and can take a lot of force. The challenge was to get the ring exactly the right size for the compression stocking to go around it whilst also allowing a foot to pass through it. Even more so because older people are less flexible and less able to flex and point their feet.
The transfer of the rolled-up sock onto the leg was another challenge that was at least equally difficult. The compression stocking must not shift around too much on the leg because the skin beneath it is extra sensitive, so there is a risk of injuring the skin.
Over the course of this journey of invention, we became experts on compression stockings. We tested a variety of sizes and types of stockings and can conclude that we found exactly the right balance between opening it up and pulling it up.
The design of the Helpsoq was a consequence of its working principle. The sock needs to easily slide on and off the ring but also stay put as the ring is moved along the foot and calf. The more functional elements remain visible because they need to carry the sock on the ring section. The colour and shape are used to make it clearer for the user to see how the ring can be positioned on the motor/base.
In every product development journey, we look for the most sustainable solution. We always focus on a long lifespan, both functionally and aesthetically. The device is low maintenance, fully dismantlable and easy to repair, and we anticipate it will have an average lifespan of approximately 10 years.
Furthermore, it is fully manufactured and assembled in the Netherlands. A short supply chain means rapid delivery times and a good carbon footprint.