Easing Cerebral Palsy: Clothes


Sydney Brown and Justine Hatton

Our goal for this project is to create a hanger that helps children with Cerebral Palsy who struggle with getting dressed. When we began thinking about this project we realized just how much body motion and gross motors skills are needed in getting dressed. An everyday task like putting on a shirt becomes daunting. Children who struggle getting dressed require a caretaker, and it can be a strenuous and challenging duty for both the caretaker and the child. Especially when older and larger children are involved, putting on a shirt can be physically exhausting for the caretaker. The “helpful hanger” makes the job for the caretaker much easier, because all they need to do is put the shirt on the hanger, and the child can do the rest; all they have to do is put their arms through the sleeves and bring their arms down to release the shirt. The hanger mounts to a wall at any height, and it sits about a foot off the wall, making it wheelchair capable. The wall mount is built in a triangular shape for stability, and the rod fits the top of the hanger exactly so the hanger is secure.  

Our product is important because not only does it make the work easier for the caregiver, it gives the child the liberation of dressing him or herself.

Lift Vest Studio 1

Sam Bortman and Stefano Pagani

Process Post:

Cerebral Palsy affects how the body moves, essentially impacting a person’s control of muscle tone and motor movement and activity. Thus, we began a brainstorm web of daily problems people diagnosed with CP face. On our three column brainstorm, problems for both the diagnosed and the families of the child with cerebral palsy were drafted in addition to goals to help ease their discomfort. After the challenges were drafted we identified and isolated two major challenges that stress Cerebral Palsy patients and families — the transportation the caretaker has to do of the child and the lack of fashionable adaptable clothing available. Because of these challenges, we turned to the internet to research first adaptive clothing allowing us to capture a sense of characteristics and style many share. We discovered how much of the clothing is made from very strong yet unflattering material. The pieces utilized straps and buttons to facilitate the ability to put on clothing and ease their daily task of getting dressed. Across our research we found a lift vest. A lift vest is simply a vest that allows a caretaker to lift people out of their wheelchairs and transport them to a new location. From here we distinguished strong materials used to build adaptable clothing. We found nylon — often like you see seat belts and harnesses made from — is used when constructing adaptable clothing. Thus, we finally decided we wanted to build a lift vest that was both fashionable and easing to the caretaker because carrying cerebral palsy patients is a physical exhaustion.

    Our first iteration included the idea of using leather to make a burberry inspired lift jacket versus a vest. However, we discovered because of material, resources, and adaptability, we decided to discontinue our idea for a jacket. Instead, we revisited the concept of a lift vest. Our initial sketch included harness-like concepts as inspiration for straps to attach to the vest. Once we found a system of straps that layer and attach as one piece, we drafted a vest that essentially would be constructed from very little cuts and pieces of fabric and would layer together with a creative pattern with the nylon straps. However, we did not know how the material would exactly work together so we found a nylon-like material to play around with and experiment where to sew. This led to our first prototype. It worked as it helped us see how flexible the material is and gave us more inspiration to how we would drape fabric together. We chose to make another iteration because the straps were not fashionably put on and the material did not work well with the straps attached to the sides and fronts of the vest. If we kept it the way it was, then the straps and vest would not support the material and would most likely rip the vest. And because our goal was to ease the physical exhaustion of the caretaker while creating a fashion forward lift vest, a new iteration was needed. Therefore, we turned to the manikin and played with the nylon strap. We layered it and draped it based from a layered pink dress we found on a store website.

    We needed to first figure out a system of clips/adjustable straps for the sides and front of the vest. First we used the idea of buttons to attach the vest and quickly abandoned that idea and changed it to a buckle that works like the ones you would find on a backpack that slide up and down to loosen and tighten the straps. Because of this, we integrated the idea of using these straps to loosen and tighten the vest so one can slip it on as 1 simple movement. In Rhino we designed a three prong buckle that the nylon can slip in and out of to make the straps that lift the person out of their wheel chair adjustable. Finally, we chose to 3D print the 4 buckles Our final project included 4 adjustable straps and a creative design vest that benefits both the patient and caretaker.


       When a person struggles with Cerebral Palsy, it is oftentimes difficult to control one’s muscle motions and ability. That being so, it is usually the caretaker’s role to help the transportation process of the person with Cerebral Palsy. For example, a simple task such as going to the bathroom can be nearly impossible for an individual with Cerebral Palsy to accomplish on their own. The caretaker holds the responsibility to hold and lift the patient out of their wheelchair and relocate them. However their job is often conflicted due to the heavy weight needed to be carried. Physical exhaustion is a primary struggle faced by the caretaker. Moreover, there is frequently a stigma associated with adaptable clothing, specifically lift vests. The final iteration of the Lift Vest offers relief and benefits to two parties: the caretaker and the diagnosed person with CP. Constructed from pure nylon straps, the Lift Vest offers a strong woven pattern that binds the material together to build the base of the vest. Each nylon strap folds and intertwines together for maximum support of the body — chest, neck, and back. The final iteration includes heavy neck support which aids the patient who struggles with muscle control. Aside from providing physical relief to the caretaker with the woven design, the design also reduces the stigma linked with the typical denim lift vest and creates a creative wearable. The final vest additionally includes four adjustable straps that allow the vest to easily be slipped on and off in addition to being customizable to the wearer in a simple 1-2 movements. When the straps tighten, four handles for the caretaker to use to lift the patient with are created, serving double purposed. The adjustable straps slide in and out to overall loosen the piece. When the straps tighten, the sides become handles that are used to lift the person out of their wheelchair and transferred to their next location. Focusing on the two goals to facilitate the physical exhaustion experienced by the caretaker, and to design a more fashionable lift vest, we were able to incorporate a design for our final iteration that relieved both challenges.



Leo Connelly and 2 OthersRosa Weinberg
Emma Welch

Our Studio focused on people living with CP.

People with CP have poor blood circulation because they spend so much time in their wheelchairs. One popular solution to this problem is compression clothing. We investigated three different forms of compression. 

Our intentions were to make compression clothing for children living with CP. We found that compression clothing can be expensive and the only compression pants available are adjustable by inflation and deflation. However, this can be expensive so we brainstormed ideas of how to make more affordable compression pants. 

We looked at Kinesio tape, a special tape that athletes use for controllable compression for a short period of time. The tape increases blood flow and movement wherever it is applied. Our original plan was to apply this concept to socks. 

We realized compression socks wouldn't work due to discomfort and practicality so we moved onto pants. Our ideas dealt with zippers, but we realized zippers might be difficult to use for someone with CP. Javier told us about snowboarding boots and how you can use a knob to tighten the boots. We thought we might apply that concept, but realized it might be difficult for some with CP to turn a dial. So we decided to use lanyard cord locks instead. 

We then looked towards comfort and performance. We began brainstorming on what type of materials would be comfortable, compressive but also affordable. We thought about spandex, cloth, polyester and other materials. We then began designing and drawing sketches of the pants.


Nuradin Bhatti and Yoni Segal

The process began with a brainstorm on how we would make clothing more adaptive for individuals with cerebral palsy. Initially, we considered major modifications: We thought about cutting out the back of jackets to allow the clothing to fit on the kid more easily. We also had the idea of detachable sleeves, because sleeves are often the hardest parts to put on for adaptive clothing.  However these modifications would require significant work and potentially be very expensive.


Ultimately, we decided to replace three things: buttons, zippers, and snaps. These things were chosen because they would be the easiest to change, which is important when you don't have a lot of tools. They're all attachment points as well, and people with CP have trouble bringing two things together with any dexterity. Most importantly, these are affordable minor modifications.


The button was a pretty hard challenge. How do you print something rigid that will universally fit over any button? We decided to use a slot with divots, so you could easily pull the button through. The divot originally was much larger than it needed to be, so we reduced the size, while making sure to have enough material that the button could hang on. The other side of the button replacer is simply a button with a flat side; Velcro is put on both sides so they attach.


Our goal with zippers was to make them easier to grip. The plan was to create an attachment for the head of the zipper that is easier to move when you lack dexterity. You can use a little piece of string or cloth to connect the zipper to our attachment. It's easy to move it with one hand, and easy to grip even when you're shaking. Those are both problems that people with CP have with moving zippers.


One major difficulty with designing the zipper was finding the right shape. We started out with a star, which we thought would be fun for kids to play with and zip. The problem with that was that it could poke someone in the eyes. Even if you flipped the star, so the points faced downwards, it would also be painful to pull, because your fingers would get caught in the bottom points. So, we decided to use a nice, simple, easy to grip shape: the square.


The snaps were relatively easy. We modeled snaps in Fusion by creating a 2d cutaway and revolving it to get the shape we wanted. The only challenge was getting the snaps to fit together. We made the snap parts bigger and smaller until real snaps fit with the ones we made. We modeled them off real snaps, and tested them by fitting them to real snaps. They are connected by Velcro, like the button replacers.


The most major modification we made was for tight clothing. To make tight clothing easier to put on, we essentially designed a Velcro 'fly', except it would be installed on both sides of the clothing. We used Velcro with a sticky back, so it could be attached more easily. We decided to show the replacement on the sides of jeans. There, we added an elastic connection, to make the pants hold together, and put the Velcro over the zippers.


Devin Lewtan and Noah Saldaña
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People with Cerebral Palsy have trouble controlling/practicing their fine motor skills. Because of this, everyday clothing that contains zippers and buttons are difficult to put on. Changing clothing can be an annoying and anxious time for kids with Cerebral Palsy; we want kids to have a fun way to practice getting dressed.  We boiled down the skills involved with zippers and buttons and came up with games that would allow kids to practice these skills. This vest not only allows kids to practice the basic motions behind zippers and buttons, but is also naturally fun and entertaining.

The skills involved in zippering and buttoning are pulling, pinching, holding (two hands), and slipping through a small opening. The games associated with each skill vary from spinners to levers to fill-in-hole matching toys. Every toy on the vest has a specific purpose.

Many pieces of clothing made for someone with CP are adaptive and simplify the process of getting dressed and undressed, but the Skills Vest teaches the kids to possibly be able to use the zippers and buttons on everyday clothing. This eliminates the purchase of an entire adaptive wardrobe.

Final Post

Phoebe Petryk and Benjamin Lewis

Problem: A large percent of people suffering with CP struggle with keeping their neck stable so it flops to the side. To fix this uncomfortable and frusturating problem, we created a neck support piece that is both lightweight and comfortable and can offer support for the neck while still giving the neck full range of motion. 

Why it is unique: A common problem when wearing a neck brace or support piece, like this is that it stands out and can cause self consciousness when out in public. To help camoflauge the obviousness of the neck piece, we designed a piece that attatches to the top of the neck rod that sits along the back of the neck. This piece allows you to attatch snap backs, baseball caps, and just about any other head apparel you could think of. 

What it does: This neck support piece lays gently on your shoulders and uses a thin piece of sturdy wood that lays against the neck and up along the lower section of the head to provide support.

Our finished product worked well and was comfortable, If we were to continue with this project we would look into finding ways to make it fit to other kinds of hats, and find a way to make it a little more comfortable. 



Nuradin Bhatti and Yoni Segal
pants diagram.jpg

People with cerebral palsy often have problems with putting on clothing. We aim to make it easy and inexpensive for them to modify clothing for their needs. Our plan is to make a kit that can be distributed to families in need, who have children with CP, so they can easily get the adaptive clothes they need.
This is a problem that affect millions of people. Because cerebral palsy most often happens when people don't have a lot of money, and therefore good healthcare, we need to gear these products towards cheapness.