Rehab product design

Hello everyone!

I’ve just been trawling through the various threads here in search of inspiration for a new rehab product we’re beginning to research. So far have found very little of any significance relating to innovative design of rehab products. Does anyone know of any good websites or places to gain inspiration from?


Physical rehabilitation?

I know that Don Herring at ASU had a grad student that had a background in prosthetics a couple of years ago. You might want to drop him a message.

Hopefully, cg will chime in. He’s in the med industry and might know something.

From my experience, you will be treading new ground. So many therapy products are developed by engineering alone.

The usual suspects would be and the IDEA award winners in the medical catagory.

I’ll assume you have done the secondary research in your segment and have the various trade magazines. But don’t forget just going and seeing what is available at the retail level - Walgreens, CVS, mom & pop medical supply store, etc.

thanks for the response guys. Yeah guess rehab/medical product design is still a fairly under-developed area. will look in to what you suggested

I don’t think it’s an undeveloped area. It’s all I’ve done for 20+ years, and met many other designers, engineers and entrpreneurs gainfully employed in this area.

It’s undeveloped here.

So …

Does anyone know of any good websites or places to gain inspiration from?

There’s medical products that are VERY well developed in a design sense, there are also many lacking!

I checked out the IDEA awards website (thanks for the suggestion) and there’s some pretty awesome stuff there. You’re quite right, they are very well developed. I was saying under developed (in slight ignorance I admit, sorry!) from more what i’ve seen in local rehab supplies catalogues, for things like bathing and mobility accessories.

My problem with stuff like that, is that it all looks really dull and clinical (makes you feel like there’s something wrong with you if you own one), I mean I know it’s all massivly cost driven but they all seem to be white powder coated tubes with grey rubber end plugs.

I think that’s why I was highly impressed by the IDEA awards galleries as they seem to be highly sophisticated products. Very refreshing to see.

highly sophisticated products. Very refreshing to see.

I’ve done hand-rehab devices (hand and foot orthoses) for a local company; their constant concern is that the appearance of their products is correlated to acceptability; not by the patient or therapist, but by the people who pay for them., i.e. insurance companies.

I think the insurance company’s sentiment is, “We don’t need ‘fancy’. We’re paying for it, and we want the cheapest we can get for the customer (patient).”

If it can be produced at, or below, what is currently produced, fine. But many rehab products are of low-volume batch production; hence the higher cost, and smaller margin for the manufacturer / distributors. Remember, the processes we choose are directly related to production volume.

Just so we are on the same “page”, are you referring to rehabilitation aids, or scientific equipment?


I’ve been doing devices for 15+ years and I’d much rather be doing this than any consumer product. The research is much more interesting to me.

I will admit that look & feel can be lacking for commodities, but that is true in many industries. But there are plenty of devices needing to reflect brand identity, just as any consumer product. And obviously an industrial designer can contribute to the design in many other ways in addition to look & feel.

As you know, the main focus of devices is outcomes. You can justify any design if you can show quantifiable evidence of its benefit. I have never designed a rehab device but if you can prove a better outcome, CMS or any private insurance will reimburse at a profitable rate. You will get nowhere if you add a “design” element that adds cost but has no benefit other than its “cool”. You can try to argue better compliance because of look & feel, but you need the research to back it up.

I am indeed refering to rehabilitation aids. Thanks for the images you posted up, good to see other stuff. .

I have to say I completely agree I think that designing especially rehab products and adding cost in the name of making it look ‘cool’ is not good. However if the product can be imroved semantically and aesthetically, therefore creating overall a more inclusive product without adding cost then i think that’s a good thing.