If you could invent one thing to help everyday life...?

Dear the MS Society,

I am a third year Product Design & Manufacture student at the University of Nottingham. I am working on a design brief to empower the lives of those with long term diseases, specifically those with multiple sclerosis. My focus is to create a product that will make the lives of those with MS just that little bit better/easier. As a form of research, I would be extremely grateful if you would take the time to answer my one question. I am not asking for any personal data, merely your insights. Please feel free to add anything else that comes to mind.

If you could invent one thing to help you in everyday life, what would it be?

My aim is certainly not to “cure MS”, or create a new form of medication, but to see if there’s a unsolved niggle in people’s lives. My grandmother has MS (hence why this is close to my heart) and her current pet peeve is that the joystick on her wheelchair means that she cannot fit under the dining table. I know another one of her frustrations is that she can’t eat from a plate unless it is on her lap.

I greatly appreciate you taking the time to read this, and thank you in advance for any feedback.

T. Hart

P.S. One of my initial thoughts was to design something that would help those that suffer from tremors/spasms take their medication. My research and experience indicates that dropping pills on the floor is not a rare occurrence!

Thanks for your post.

there’s always something during daily tasks that makes me wish it could be easier.

the latest niggle is I’ve found my upper body strength dwindling. If I try too hard, I get spasms. I always cook from scratch, so chopping veg can be dangerous or impossible when it comes to something like a butternut squash. I bought good quality sharp knives ages ago, but more likely to chop a finger off. I don’t have the strength for my mandolin either. I don’t want to buy pre prepared veg, as I grow most of my own. (With help using raised beds, garden trolley as a walker).

Ive just ordered a ratchet nutcracker (yes I grow nuts too)! If you can come up with a safe, efficient alternative, patent, go in to production, fair play…


Just a thought reference your grandmother’s problem, you can get a “swing away” joystick, whereby it does just that, swings to the back part of your arm rest, so enabling you to position your w/chair under the table.

Hope this helps, and good luck with your project.


It would be ideal to invent something that when in a supermarket and in a wheelchair that you can reach what you want from the top and bottom shelf without fumbling or having to ask someone to help you.

Also a great tool to be able to cut your nails whilst your hands are shaking.

Hope this helps in a small way. Sorry to hear about your grandmother and hope she is as well as she can be.



Take your cat. They can knock anything off a shelf ! Tin of beans, box of coco pops… could be the answer…


I’ve been trying to find a gadget to help with zips but not the kind with a hook that goes through a hole on a zipper. Those ones help with big zips like on coats but I want one that can help me grip small zips like invisible zippers on smart trousers and skirts.

I’m reasonably well and am still working and wear smart clothes for work. I am not ready to wear elasticated waist trousers and skirts just yet but I do still struggle to grip zips and, for some reason, they are often on the left hand side of a skirt which is also the side with my worst hand. I get into all sorts of contortions trying to reach round with the good hand (it’s a good job I go to yoga so am still flexible). Even the right hand doesn’t always behave itself especially if I am fatigued or too hot and both hands get bad pins and needles/numbness. Sometimes when I’m going to the toilet, it takes me longer than it should just because I have trouble with the zip on my trousers. Once, I even considered going out of the cubicle to ask for help … Luckily, I managed by myself in the nick of time!

I’ve asked at the mobility shop but they just offer me the bog standard zip pulling gadget which has a hook on the end. Can you help?

Best wishes to your grandma


l know l am asking for the impossible. But - as most of us have problems with bladder/bowel control - l would like an ‘lnvisible Loo’ that follows me around - one that l can see and use - but nobody else can. This would be the best ‘convenience’ ever!! -

That, or a secret commode on my scooter.

And another good invention would be a rack that you can fix to a tow bar on the car - so that you can drive your scooter onto it - from either side - so side ramps that fold down - but not with a jockey wheel. One that is supported by a re-inforced tow bar. This would enable you to take your scooter everywhere without having to dismantle it - and it would not take up any space in the car.

So I’m the only one thinking ‘mute’ button ???

‘Pause’ or ‘Rewind’ comes to mind for me! Oh to be 21 again… No MS to worry about, and all the energy in the world!

How about a way of rewiring the human body, similar to the way you’d do a house. Replace all the cabling, nicely covered with some protective myelin that’s impervious to destructive interferon that can’t tell the difference between healthy tissue and bad.

Can I get a bionic hand like Lee Majors ?

Sorry T J. Don’t mean to go O T with your post…

I’d like something to effectively brace my dropped foot. Something I can wear with any shoes, or even no shoes.

Ive had FES and I currently use a foot up which is only really any good with lace up shoes or trainers.

There is SAFO but it’s expensive and I don’t know if my health authority can provide it. It’s also expensive.

so, it also needs to be cheap!


Re your post. How about a little remote control tracked/wheeled vehicle adapted to insert a urinary catheter and controllable wirelessly from a joystick or voice command or foot pedal. Many people are unable to selfcathetarise due to insufficient manual dexterity and difficulty seeing down below (women especially). This device would enable them to be less dependant. I envisage something with a camera that presents a monitoring screen to the user so they can see that the point of the catheter is approaching the urethral insertion point, (maybe the operators own I-phone can double up for the camera or for the screen, to save on cost, or even not use camera at all but just an angled mirror for close up. Would also need something like a very simple robotic arm to angle and extend or withdraw the catheter tip and a urine collection device. May need some kind of pressure sensor to avoid over extension, or a bespoke fitting suited to the anatomy of the individual. May need to consider how to assure sterility and avoid allergy and easy changing over of catheter and collection device.

Love the idea Carraboy of taking the cat, I could just imagine what chaos he’d cause!!!



Oh yes, so would I. I’ve used so many things, like you Flowerpot, I’ve used foot-up, but as you say, only with trainers etc. The shoeless thing doesn’t really work. The big problem with foot-up is that the insert bit shifts with use and the ‘lift’ isn’t always good enough. It also doesn’t help with higher up the leg. FES works much better, but has its down sides too; electrodes become detached, wires come loose, you’ve got a box attached to clothes that can come unattached (I once dropped the box in the loo!). Once FES fails, I’m kind of stranded, unable to pick up my right foot at all. I’ve also tried MSMate, it sort of helps, looks hideous and leads me to walk a bit more bent over. I’ve got a SAFO too. It’s not easy to get on, doesn’t help at all with higher up the leg (so I get severe hip pain) and ultimately I have only been able to use it in a hydrotherapy pool. I tried a traditional orthotic but it just hurt. All of these various devices have cost me loads of money. The NHS paid for one foot-up. The rest I’ve self funded. And I’ve always got some degree of hip pain because the entire leg is faulty.

Whatever I use, I’m stuck with only being able to use it a tiny bit round the house with a walker. Trying to walk further always ends up with my legs being utterly exhausted and my knees buckling. So I do nothing functional walking, my balance gets worse & worse and all I can do is walk the length of the kitchen a few times a day for the exercise.

If I had a device that didn’t cost the earth, could be used without shoes or any shoes, preferably helped with signalling movement to the entire leg and above all, worked, I’d be so happy.

The worst thing is I think my other leg is getting it too. If that happens I reckon it won’t be long before I’m 100% in a wheelchair.


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I use a wheelchair, and generally getting dressed isn’t a problem. But when I’m feeling very weak & lifting my backside off the seat is hard, pulling my trousers up can be right old pickle. So something that can help with that would be great.


Wow! Thank you so much to everyone who has answered - I didn’t expect even half of this response!

All of this feedback is absolutely brilliant, I can’t thank you enough. I hope that someday all of these problems can be resolved!

Clarkey - thank you! I’ve spoken to a few other people who seem to have a similar situation as you, it seems there’s a few products out there that might help, but they’re outrageously expensive. I found this, wondered if it might be something you’d be interested in -

skippysprite (Pam) - thank you for this! I’ve told my dad (my grandmother’s son) to look into this, as it would certainly take a lot of trouble out of my grandmother’s life!

Janet - thank you for your kind words. I can’t believe something hasn’t been invented for cutting nails already, I’ve struggled finding anything online. Definitely something to look into. And all I can imagine for aid with shopping is robotics, and things would get costly… !

elmo (Tracey) - thank you, this is really interesting as well, I’d like to look into this further. You might see a post sometime next year about this, as that is when I’ll be doing my Masters!

spacejacket - thank you, I love this bicycle ramp idea! I think this could definitely be done, maybe even with existing products. Nice thought.

Carraboy - I think everyone would benefit from a mute button sometimes!!

Flowerpot/Ssssue (Sue) - thank you both! This is really interesting… there’s a lot of thought going into this sort of thing at the moment, especially with 3D scanning and 3D printing becoming more common in manufacturing methods. For example, you could get a scan of you leg/foot and have a “frame” build to precisely support it. From my understanding of it, the cost of these personalised products aren’t from the technology, it’s from the service. The actual knowledge of how to programme and ‘design’ with this type of software is minimal at best, but it will explode all over the world when researchers finally crack it… Sadly, this might not happen for years. It’s worth a google if you’re interested in this sort of thing.

mrbobowen - this is precisely the sort of thing that my design project was looking for. Unfortunately I don’t think I have the skillset or knowledge to design something like this yet, but it is certainly in the right direction. V. interesting thought, thank you!

he_funk (Dan) - a friend of mine is looking into this!! I’m unsure what stage of design she is in, or even if she’ll produce any sort of design, but it’s interesting to know that the problem is certainly out there! thank you.

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