YOU is a cross-media service with a three-step spinal health assessment kit that uses practical self-examination tools and customised navigation to help teens catch scoliosis symptoms early and build a positive attitude towards body posture.

Elitnisa Solenay
Yulin Ran
Deepu James
Designing for Scoliosis and Postural Behaviours
Today, 156 million people = 2% of the world population have been affected by Scoliosis. With this percentage, dozens of people around you may be openly or personally coping with this condition. But what is Scoliosis? It's a health condition where the spine twists sideways that starts during puberty. In the early stage, bracing is the most common method to stop the curve from getting progressed, but when the curve gets severe people need to consider surgery, which has risks but a necessary treatment to stop the disease before it affects other organs and the body mechanics. All the treatment methods have an impact and the inherent risk it brings to people. Therefore, early discovery of spinal conditions can be a lifesaver for any young person.
Addressing The Challenge

But the signs of spinal deformities are easy to hide, causing late diagnosis of Scoliosis. Further, the absence of regular health screenings in schools and the fragmented healthcare system lacks urgent support, therefore, leaving the patient with a missed opportunity of early diagnosis and timely treatment. Most of the time, diagnosis happens when it is already severe, and the treatment becomes more challenging and less effective. It affects the patient on a lifelong scale, both physically and mentally, exposing them to a financially challenging treatment. After hearing the stories of patients and doctors, the insights led us to one important question: How might we raise young people’s awareness of Scoliosis to identify the condition early and build positive attitudes towards body posture?

The Actions To Be Taken

To achieve awareness, young people first need age-appropriate resources to understand their health closely. Then they can access the tools, which provide instant clues of diagnosis and monitor their spinal health accordingly. Enabling the related-use channels for those young people in public has a vital role in engaging with the healthcare services. As well as redesigning the relation between PE teachers and school nurses or reaching to gyms or other support communities can be the mediator of presenting the necessary services and tools to teenagers for sustaining their postural health with the needed support.

The Solution: Cross-Media Services

To disseminate the opportunities of early diagnosis for everyone, we have developed a booklet that comes in three sections: Learn-Measure-Act. The first section introduces us to the fundamentals of spinal health and builds a positive attitude towards body deformities. Section Two contains two DIY tools we uniquely developed for Scoliosis that only come with a printing cost. The tool does this by checking the spine curve and comparing the shoulder level to provide insights into the assessment later. The last section is where the assessment is made and shows postural tips and tailored suggestions for each group. The booklet is available to individuals and mediators (such as schools) via YOU web platform. The web platform also showcases body positivity campaigns to motivate the people who cope with Scoliosis and encourage more teens to be part of the awareness. To do your self-assessment, please follow

Visioning The Future By Knowing The Present

Before reaching the final version of the Scoliosis identification tool, we looked at existing tools and iterated on 20 different mock-ups with 9 user tests at different scales. All the tests and co-creation activities have shown us how using the cross-media (physical and digital) tools benefits each other when it's recognised by all levels of the public and used for the need of self-diagnostics. Surely, as designers, a part of our mission should be building the foundation of digital diagnostics. But designing inclusively for the most practical and economical way to have self-awareness of spinal health, presented us with insights into the complexity of ethics and the security of digital diagnostics in the future. Moreover, such physical tools can provide us with new research opportunities by extending these toolkits to different healthcare areas in the future, which will enable many people to build empathy and raise awareness-preventions for other health conditions starting from young ages.

The Hands-On Process

The lacking engagement of simple healthcare interventions in people's lives puts the opportunities of early diagnosis in danger. Therefore, self-screening in orthopaedics fills a gap that can prevent the problem before it's too late. One feedback we received from the doctor was that our service gives a level of assessment that raises awareness, hence it is vital for the results to be referred to the doctor immediately. Later, a patient mentioned that seeing her self-assessment was a reason to get help for her Scoliosis again. This also validates our service aim and proved more screening opportunities to the public are a step towards a healthier life. In the next steps, we are excited to take our service tool to the Acibadem Hospital for further prototyping. With the findings throughout the journey, we also aim to contribute to the organisations that carry out intensive studies on spinal deformities.

special thanks

Special thanks; to David Eveleigh-Evans, our project tutor who always believed in this project with his inspiring mentoring, to our project consultants for their inspiring assistance Amy Matrai from NHS Digital Academy, Andres Lopez Josenge from VISA, Dr. XInchao Li from Fudan University, and Dr. Taner Gunes from Acibadem Hospitals, to our project participants who added constant value to this project & All MA Service Design Tutors for giving us a lifetime opportunity here at the RCA.

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