Exercising is a key approach adopted by muscular dystrophy patients to halt the weakening of muscles as it can eventually lead to serious immobility issues. Though it is essential to exercise on a daily basis for healthy living, there is no mention of any research effort in the current literature regarding the development of an apparel product for these mobility-affected patients that might assist them both in meeting their exercising needs and providing them some comfort in their daily living. Thus, this paper aims to focus on identifying the specific needs of muscular dystrophy victims and proposing special adaptive clothing solutions to support their daily exercise and mobility needs.
To achieve the objectives of this study, attention was focused on the muscular dystrophy afflicted women in Sri Lanka. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with the female victims of muscular dystrophy and their lifestyles were observed carefully; additional data were gathered by holding semi-structured interviews with their physiotherapists. Further, interviews were conducted with both garment technologists and fabric technologists too. Data gathered through these methods were analyzed qualitatively using the principles of thematic analysis and then aggregate conclusions were drawn.
It was observed that the patients were engaged in special activities such as exercising three times a day besides following their normal day-to-day activities to maintain and develop muscle strength. It soon became evident that these women found it difficult to perform their daily exercise routines with their regular clothing and were looking for custom made clothing they could wear all day long in comfort and avoid the problems that arose while exercising. The study specifies the requirements that must be met to satisfy both generic and specific needs. Considering all these aspects some adaptive clothing solutions were proposed to support daily exercising activity with respect to comfort, convenience, health and safety, as well as socio-cultural and psychological needs.
The area of fusing generic and specific features to support the daily exercising needs of muscular dystrophy victims is an untouched field of experimentation and being a need of the disabled, the present study marks a milestone on the way to a novel area of apparel design, besides exploring a new field of research.
The authors gratefully acknowledge University of Moratuwa for the financial support (Senate Research Committee short term grant # SRC/ST/2020/17) and Dr Shiromi Maduwage (Consultant Community Physician at Youth, Elderly & Disability unit-Ministry of Health) for her support.
Seram, N., Mataraarachchi, R. and Jayaneththi, T. (2021), "Adaptive clothing features to support daily exercising needs of muscular dystrophy victimized women in Sri Lanka", Research Journal of Textile and Apparel, Vol. 25 No. 2, pp. 170-191. https://doi.org/10.1108/RJTA-08-2020-0087
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