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Adapted Stethoscope for Doctor with Partial Quadriplegia

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Young doctor, resident in gastroenterology, injured his back in a fall and is now partially quadriplegic. Has some hand function, but limited strength and dexterity. Desired to return to some level of clinical activity.


Adapted stethoscope
Adapted stethoscope
Stethoscope in use
Stethoscope in use
  • Laptop with NaturallySpeaking for research and case notes.
  • External small-profile keyboard and Kensington ExpertMouse trackball with scroll ring for backup and better access to software that displays colonoscopy results. These items were placed on a board with lateral slide bearings to address limited range of motion.
  • In the clinic, he utilized an assistant for some activities, but had a strong desire to handle a stethoscope. Modifications were made to hold spring-tensioned ear pieces partially opened to ease the independent donning of device (using vinyl coated steel wire and hose clamps). Also added a built-up handle near the sensing head to enable better grip and stability (needed to avoid rustling noise from unsteady pressure). The handle extends in both directions perpendicular to the tubing to allow for a variety of positions. The challenge was to attach the handle to the silicone rubber tubing without crimping it and reduce the twisting inherent in the soft tubing. Solution was to attach the handle to a split brass tube and use hose clamps to squeeze the two halves together, distributing the pressure and increasing rigidity.

Cost Analysis

Materials: Under $5

Labor: 3 hours, including testing with user.

Repeatability of Solution

Easily replicated, adaptable to individual needs, but a rare need.


Ray Grott, MA, ATP

Rehabilitation Engineering & Technology Project

San Francisco State University