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British company uses “osteo-arthritis suit” to better understand its customers

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Sally Gillespie
Bell Pottinger
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sgillespie@bell-pottinger.co.uk

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A member of the Stannah design team tests the arthritis suits
A member of the Stannah design team tests the arthritis suits
A member of the Stannah design team takes a ride on a  Stannah Stairlift
A member of the Stannah design team takes a ride on a Stannah Stairlift
The gloves on the suit are designed to simulate the effects of osteoarthritis
The gloves on the suit are designed to simulate the effects of osteoarthritis

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A member of the Stannah design team uses the Rollator which was launched in the summer

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Stannah Stairlifts and Loughborough University’s Design School reveal suit to raise awareness on World Arthritis Day

An iconic British company has gone to incredible lengths to simulate the effects of arthritis and so help their sales teams better understand the challenges their customers face.

World-renowned stairlift manufacturer Stannah Stairlifts purchased the state-of-the-art osteo-arthritis suit from researchers at Loughborough University so that their engineers and sales staff can better understand what it is like to suffer from the condition, helping them to reach out and empathise with prospective customers around the world.

With over 9 million people in the UK suffering from arthritis, and the condition accounting for 1 in 5 GP visits, arthritis is the number one cause of disability in the UK. And with arthritis affecting the elderly, the number of sufferers is expected to increase as the population ages.

The Osteoarthritis Suit simulates osteo-arthritis in the knee, hip and hands and comes with a sock that mimics a bunion.

The suit has already given research and development experts at Stannah valuable insights into how they might improve product design and will be used in training and induction sessions to help staff throughout the business understand more about the challenges a large number of Stannah customers face.

Sharon Cook, Manager of the Loughborough SKInS (Sensory and Kinaesthetic Interactive Simulations) Programme which researches and develops Wearable Simulations of given health conditions said: “The aim of the Loughbrough SKInS: Wearable Simulations is to enable those without a health condition, such as osteoarthritis, to obtain some insight into how it feels and what its impacts to daily living might be.  In this way, empathy with suffers is generated amongst designers, sales teams and staff trainers, thereby guiding improvements to future product and service design.

“Since the number of over 85s in the UK is projected to more than double by 2035, it can be assumed that the prevalence of arthritis will also increase.  Therefore all organisations – from supermarkets to air carriers – will need to radically consider how they can accommodate this growing market segment and Wearable Simulations are a powerful mechanism for facilitating this change in approach.”

Nick Stannah, Product Marketing Director at Stannah Stairlifts, added: “The arthritis suit has helped people at Stannah better empathise with our customers who suffer from arthritis. Britain is ageing, and arthritis is a growing issue. It is through innovative techniques like this that we can ensure our products and staff continue to help our customers retain their independence in and outside of the home. Indeed, the Osteoarthritis Suit is already having a very positive impact on how Stannah designs its products and empathises with the needs of its customers”

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About Stannah
Stannah is a world-leader in lift manufacturing, producing stair lifts, passenger lifts, escalators and moving walkways, vertical platform lifts, goods and service lifts.  It is one of Britain’s leading engineering companies and remains an independent, family owned and run firm. The company’s experience of the lift industry is unsurpassed, originating in cargo lifts in the 1860s. In 1975, Stannah designed the first affordable, quick-to-install and easy-to-use stairlift and has since sold over 500,000 stairlifts worldwide.

Stannah is run today by fourth generation joint chairmen Alan and Brian Stannah, who launched the revolutionary Microlift and Maxilift in the 1960s and the Stannah stairlift in the 1970s. Today they are supported by the fifth generation of the family - Jon, Patrick, Alastair and Nick Stannah - who are proud torchbearers for Stannah’s long-held family spirit and traditions.

Stannah now operates in more than 40 countries and has subsidiaries in nine countries including Holland, Italy and America.

For more information visit http://www.stannah.co.uk/

For media enquiries please contact Sally Gillespie or Chris Watts at BellPottinger on 0207 861 2494 sgillespie@bell-pottinger.co.uk/ cwatts@bell-pottinger.co.uk

About Loughborough University
Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2010 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top universities in the UK, and has topped the Times Higher Education league for the UK’s Best Student Experience every year since the poll's inception in 2006. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

It is a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.

The Loughborough Design School brings together teams of staff with world leading reputations for their research, teaching and collaboration with industry, commerce and the public sector. It is the breadth of this provision 'under one roof' that that is at the heart of its activity, and provides a one-stop opportunity for those seeking to collaborate or study in a very broad arena of design, ergonomics and technology.  The successful standing of the Design School is evidenced by members of its staff having the highest independently assessed Art and Design research profiles of any UK higher education institution with 55% of its research rated as world leading. 

The Loughborough SKInS (Sensory and Kinaesthetic Interactive Simulations) Programme which researches and develops Wearable Simulations of given health conditions is one of a handful of international groups working in this field.  Although Wearable Simulations is a relatively new field, Loughborough has been active in it for nearly 15 years and can point to past successes such the Third Age (Ageing) Suit for the Ford Motor Company which was followed by the Osteoarthritis Suit which was developed in 2006 for Napp Pharmacuticals,  Research in this area is constantly being pushed forward  through the Loughborough SKInS Programme with the current area of work relating to simulations of Occupational Health conditions.  For further information, contact the Loughborough SKInS Programme Manager, Sharon Cooks.e.cook@lboro.ac.uk

http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/lds/galleries/research-enterprise/skins.html

About World Arthritis Day
World Arthritis Day was established in 1996 by Arthritis and Rheumatism International (ARI) and is celebrated each year on 12 October.

Now, people with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) from around the world can join together to make their voices heard on this day. World Arthritis Day is an ideal focus for organisations to raise awareness of issues affecting people with RMDs and for individuals to support campaigns.

Although 12 October is the official World Arthritis Day, this is a year round campaign. The World Arthritis Day website is supported and managed by EULAR, the European League Against Rheumatism.

For more information visit http://www.stannah.co.uk www.worldarthritisday.org

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