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Shock absorber key in modified rowing machine

Shock absorber key in modified rowing machine

An adjustable industrial shock absorber is helping a young woman regain strength and mobility following a major operation to remove a tumour. The shock absorber is built into a modified rowing machine in a project coordinated by nationwide charity Remap.

Remap helps disabled people achieve independence and a better quality of life by designing and building equipment that meets their individual needs. Each piece of equipment is bespoke to the individual user and may be designed to help them exercise, carry out essential daily tasks without having to ask for help, or allow them to take part in sports and leisure activities that would otherwise be impossible.

Founded in 1964, Remap has helped more than 80,000 people from all around the UK. Many of its volunteers are engineers, craftsmen, designers or programmers from the manufacturing industry who either fit the work in around their jobs or who have retired but want to keep putting their skills to good use.

One Remap volunteer, Barry Tremlett, was asked to help out on a project for a young woman called Ellie, who is disabled from the waist down following an operation to remove a tumour. She uses a rowing machine to exercise her legs for which Barry designed and supplied a modification that supports her legs on the forward stroke.

She uses this for a few hours each day, building up her muscles and working on her movements. However, she cannot stop the seat as she moves forward meaning that it was crashing into the original stop and passing a painful shock through her body with every stroke. Barry assessed the situation and decided the best solution was to fit an industrial shock absorber, mounted using a transverse aluminium square section tube, which reacts against the seat as it runs forward. The shock absorber dissipates the kinetic energy in a controlled impact-free way to create a smooth movement that glides the seat to a stop. Barry contacted WDS about sourcing a suitable shock absorber and was delighted when he was told there would be no charge because it was such a special project.

“The WDS engineers helped identify the best possible unit for the job and suggested that an adjustable one would be ideal because it could be reset as Ellie gets stronger and her muscles grow,” recalls Barry.

Industrial shock absorbers work by driving a piston into an oil-filled chamber and forcing the oil out through a relatively small orifice to provide a cushioning effect. Adjustable shock absorbers, as used by Barry, have a setting wheel which is used to partially close off the orifice and thereby match oil flow, and thus the load absorption capacity, to the application requirements.

In industry shock absorbers are typically used for product handling on conveyor belts and for cushioning the movements of machine parts. They are also used in exercise machines, to control security doors and gates, in impact testing equipment and many other applications.

WDS shock absorbers are robustly built for a long reliable working life, even in harsh environments. They come in a range of sizes with stroke lengths from 8mm to 50mm and operating speeds from 0.8m/s to 3.0m/s. As with all WDS products technical specialists are always on hand to help with specification and selection or to discuss alternative ideas and solutions.

Since modifying the rowing machine with the adjustable shock absorber it’s been a lot easier for Ellie to exercise her legs and work towards recovery following her operation. Barry explains: “The specialised services that Remap provides as a charity allows us to make very real improvements to people’s lives – often given them a level of independence that they would otherwise have lost. However we are a charity, so budget does have to be considered with every project. It’s support from companies like WDS that allow us to reach our targets and offer our services to more people who need them.”

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