Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a common neuropathy that produces numbness, tingling and pain in the hand and arm. Large pressures on the median nerve, generally arising from repetitive and extended hand movements for prolonged periods of time, are often credited as the main causes of the condition.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, more than eight million people suffer from CTS each year, corresponding to three to six percent of all adults in the general U.S. population. In particular, the syndrome is highly prevalent among the elderly, one of the key contributing factors being their use of walking sticks, where grips create recurring points of high pressure and extension of the wrist, causing great pain. Thus, because of the importance that walking sticks have in supporting an independent lifestyle for the elderly, as well as the fact that no solution currently exists specifically for those suffering from CTS, we decided to fill the gap by creating an affordable, innovative and effective walking stick, the ExoStick.
Designed to restructure the basic concept of conventional walking sticks, ExoStick offers ergonomic, pressure sensitive, and highly mobile capabilities, all while addressing the two key aforementioned problems: grip and pressure. On its top, ExoStick’s hand platform incorporates memory foam, a large surface area, and a comfortable padding that distributes stress and molds to the user’s hand, allowing for a natural position. On the bottom, ExoStick’s multiple shock absorbers and its Mars rover-inspired rocker-bogie suspension system with all terrain wheels minimize the strain and vibrations that stem from the impact of lifting and setting down a walking stick in the ground.
In order to reduce manufacturing costs and make ExoStick as affordable as possible, the number of unique pieces was optimized to just twenty, half of which were designed to be mostly 3D printed, the other half which can be obtained off-the-shelf or machined. Additionally, besides the main basic stick structure, there is significant room for customizability, allowing the user for instance to add and type of sensors, like a GPS, accelerometer or even motion-detecting cameras.
With this, the feasibility of market penetration is quite prominent. ExoStick is highly marketable as a daily accessory for those suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, which in itself is a growing population due to the prevalence of sedentary lifestyles as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its ergonomic handle, combined with its heavy suspension, make ExoStick a great tool to both prevent the onset of CTS and also relieve pain in those already diagnosed. Its simplicity, customizability and innovation make the design attractive to the public, and certainly will prove to be superior to any other existing walking stick solution already in the market. Indeed, no other product caters to CTS patients as much as our idea does; as a result, since the most common demographic of those suffering from CTS are the elderly, ExoStick is a very appropriate device to put on the market.