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Grad student invents product to help amputees in everyday life

Courtesy of Michael Simonetti

Courtesy of Michael Simonetti

by Scarlet Keolanui, Staff Writer

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The worst part of U.S. veteran and lower-right leg amputee Frank Jones’ everyday life was showering.

His life has now been changed by the invention of the Shower-Safe Base. It was created by Michael Simonetti, a student in San Diego State’s administration, rehabilitation and postsecondary education graduate program, in collaboration with Jones and his prosthetist, Russell DePalma.

“I’ve waited 45 years to be able to stand in the shower,” Jones said.

Simonetti’s project came about through his class with Andrew Y. J. Szeto, an electrical and computer engineering professor, in conjunction with Caren Sax, administration, rehabilitation and post-secondary education department chair.

“A good academic environment, good professors and good collegues plus scientific research equals a solution that can be translated into thousands of people,” Simonetti said about why he believes his assistive technology creation worked.

A 23-year veteran himself, Simonetti sought to find a way to help other veterans with the most low-cost and low-tech solution possible. He recalled visiting different Goodwill stores to acquire the materials needed for the lowest price possible. The Shower-Safe base has proven to be so effective that it has moved past the research stage, become patented and is now in the works to ultimately become a limited liability company.

The current assistive technology in the market for those who need assistance getting in and out of the shower are shower chairs, although they have not been proven to benefit amputees. The Shower-Safe Base is an alternative and unique creation because the base attaches to the existing prosthetic leg and allows the user to stand safely in shower as well as transition in and out of the shower in a way that shower chairs cannot.

Simonetti and the prosthetist he is working with hope they can market this revolutionary product to the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense so it can reach more than just the current 300 people interested in the Shower-Safe Base.

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6 Comments

6 Responses to “Grad student invents product to help amputees in everyday life”

  1. Wayne Renardson on April 14th, 2016 10:09 am

    This is a great product. As an amputee (BK) from a 1969 motorcycle accident, I have not taken a shower since due to the inherent danger standing on a wet surface using one leg. In the event you would like wider dissemination of your idea, I am happy to post the info to AMP-L@u.washiongton.edu or feel free to contact me.

    Wayne R.

    [Reply]

  2. Wayne Renardson on April 14th, 2016 10:10 am

    Typo: the corrected address is:

    AMP-L@u.washington.edu

    [Reply]

  3. G F Mueden on April 15th, 2016 5:56 am

    Good idea, but my leg is cosmetic, wouldn’t lend itself to attachments or showers. I lost my foot at 25, returned to duty (limited) and the footing in our small shower stalls was non-slip, and there were things I could grab, and I could lean against two walls. It was tricky, but do-able.
    Now 98,in assisted living, the stall is gigantic, not well provided with grab bars and the footing is smooth and easy to clean. The built-in seat is too small and too low. I wash myself standing up wearing my leg, a sponge bath.
    A new leg just for the shower might be nice.

    [Reply]

  4. Lindsey Pentith on April 16th, 2016 3:35 pm

    Great stories, thank you

    [Reply]

  5. Judy Hante on April 18th, 2016 9:48 am

    It looks like a pragmatic and cost-effective solution to a long time problem for amputees! I love American ingenuity.

    [Reply]

  6. Lee Shirer on April 18th, 2016 11:03 am

    Excellent creative idea! The WaterGait water leg was invented by a prosthetic technician with low-cost, functionality and cosmetics in mind. For roughly a tenth of the cost of a standard prosthesis, the WaterGait allows trans-tibial patients the ability to enjoy all water activities including showers etc.

    [Reply]

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