The concept called for a table mounted on inclined links from a floor-mounted base that was large enough and strong enough to accommodate a child in a wheelchair. Movement by a child in the wheelchair would cause the table to rock back and forth.
The item had to be use-able in a school environment where many of the children are severely disabled. Safety was therefore paramount as although supervision levels were high, there was still the possibility of a child playing at floor level nearby.
Loading the wheelchair onto the table had to be easy.
The wheelchair rocking table was constructed largely in wood with key load bearing items being manufactured from steel. The reasons for the choice of material were the availability of the material, the particular skills of the Panel Member, plus the possibility to tailor the material to meet the safety requirements. Finger and foot trapping were key issues.
The table will be used indoors so weatherproofing was not an issue but cleanliness and hygiene were.
A base frame provides two side walls. The rocking table is mounted on steel links in bearings, in between the external frames. The table can be locked in a central position and this is the condition when the wheelchairs are loaded onto the table by means of a separate wooden ramp. The clearances between the side-frames and the table were minimised to avoid finger trapping and brush seals were fitted as an additional precaution.
Appropriate warning notes and signs are attached to the table.
Many of the children in the school are wheelchair users but are not competent enough to use electrically propelled or manual wheelchairs. Once in a wheelchair, they are not in control of their environment to any great degree. The rocking table gives them some choice. They can rock or not rock. They can move energetically or not, as the case may be.
A degree of upper body movement is essential and this provides the physio-therapeutic value of the table. Rocking to move the table strengthens the core muscles of the child. Early experience has shown that children become involved in the exercise and more aware of their surroundings.