James Dyson Singapore award winner was inspired by father's stroke recovery

·Senior Reporter
·3 min read
Rehabit is the brainchild of John Tay, who was inspired by his father's journey towards recovery after suffering a stroke. (PHOTO: Dyson Singapore)
Rehabit is the brainchild of John Tay, who was inspired by his father's journey towards recovery after suffering a stroke. (PHOTO: Dyson Singapore)

SINGAPORE — A recent National University of Singapore (NUS) graduate has created a set of rehabilitation tools to help stroke patients in their recovery after he was inspired by his father's experience to cope with the disease.

The creation by industrial design graduate John Tay Jo Han, 27, called the Rehabit, looks set to gain wider use after he won this year's Singapore National James Dyson Award.

"My father suffered a stroke and I saw the struggles and frustrations he faced when therapy centres did not have proper equipment and instead relied on makeshift methods such as towels and plastic bags during treatment," said the research engineer at the Singapore Airlines (SIA)-NUS Digital Aviation Corporate Laboratory.

Tay's father, Joseph Tay, suffered an ischemic stroke, which occurs when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain, in November last year, resulting in the loss of movement in his left limbs. The 59-year-old is currently undergoing regular rehabilitation.

Tay's equipment allows patients to exercise independently at home without having to rely on caretakers. They are 3D-printed in lightweight plastic, and can be easily tailored to an individual's needs.

Comprising four parts, Rehabit helps facilitate shoulder inner and outer rotation, forearm pronation and supination, wrist flexion and extension, and finger extension.

The design was based on movements advised by a stroke therapist while Tay also worked closely with his father to test the tools over four months. The endeavour cost over $1,000 as he had to prototype the equipment to fabricate and user test to perfect each design.

One reason for his participation in the James Dyson Award competition is to raise more awareness of stroke recovery, said Tay, who hopes that stroke patients can recover better with the help of his tools.

Tay plans to reinvest the $9,000 prize money from the award into Rehabit and commercialise it.

Rehabit is currently being used in three rehabilitation centres in Singapore that his father goes to.

Tay's invention will next compete on the international stage of the competition. A total of 20 entries across Dyson's markets will be shortlisted and announced on 12 October. Dyson, the billionaire inventor behind the brand, will select the winning entries, which will be announced on 16 November.

The runner-ups for the competition in Singapore are Vertical Farming, a farming system mounted on building exteriors for growing produce at home, and the Rollerball Itch Reliever, a tool to help eczema patients relieve their itches without damaging the skin.

Last year, a group of NUS students was chosen as the international winner of the competition for their wearable device for pressure testing of eyeballs, the first time that an entry from Singapore had won the award in its 17-year history.

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