Researchers from the Division of
Physiotherapy of Stellenbosch University’s (SU) Faculty of Medicine and Health
Sciences have developed an innovative multi-functional product for learners that
encourages healthy habits from a young age.
The KUZE is the result of years
of research in the area of posture and ergonomics by Prof Quinette Louw, Executive Head of the Department of Health
and Rehabilitation Sciences, and SU researchers Dr Sjan-Mari Brown and Dominic Fisher.
The idea of creating adjustable,
multi-functional furniture was sparked when research confirmed that learners in
the Western Cape routinely use anthropometrically-mismatched classroom
furniture that restricts optimal sitting posture.
“The KUZE is a brilliant, simple, robust
innovation that reduces the risk of developing a variety of severe ailments resulting
from a sedentary lifestyle in our schools,” says Innovus, the SU interaction
and innovation company that offered support to the research team.
Louw explains that the KUZE can be used as a height-adjustable chair,
but that it also transforms into a standing desk when placed on an existing
desk or table. This dual functionality allows the learner to easily move between
sitting and standing while working.
“Research has shown that regular changes in position increase
attention, which directly benefits academic performance,” Louw says. “When used
as a standing desk, the KUZE also takes up significantly less classroom floor
space. This facilitates additional movement by learners, as well as group work,
which traditional desks and chairs invariably restrict as a result of their
bulk and weight.”
Standing rather than sitting also increases metabolism. In this way,
the KUZE helps reduce health risks associated with sedentary behaviour, such as
overweight and diabetes. It also reduces back
and neck pain.
In addition to its multi-functionality, the KUZE’s design is unique in
the sense that it doesn’t have any mechanical parts. This feature makes it easy
for young children to adjust the equipment. Once children have identified their
ideal sitting and standing height levels with the help of an adult, they can
quickly transition between sitting and standing in the classroom or at home.
“The KUZE has a sliding desk top that can be moved to the right or
left, increasing the work surface. It also comes with a removable component
that can easily be attached to create a book or document stand,” Louw adds.
Innovus facilitated the patent process and assisted Louw and her team with
decisions about the commercialisation of the KUZE.
While it isn’t yet clear whether
the Western Cape Education Department will supply the KUZE to learners in the
region, it will soon be possible for parents to purchase the equipment. The KUZE
“grows” with the child, and can be used from the age of 3 up to 18 years. It
is, therefore, a worthwhile investment in the health and wellbeing of a child.
“We’re busy manufacturing the first
100 chairs. People who are interested are welcome to contact the team,” Louw
says. “The pricing hasn’t been finalised yet, but the estimated cost will be R1 000.”
For more information, contact the
Division of Physiotherapy at +27 21 938 9300 or send an email to Prof Quinette Louw at firstname.lastname@example.org.