Researchers from Stellenbosch University’s Division of Physiotherapy have developed a multi-function innovation 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: Department of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, and other Stellenbosch University researchers, Dr Sjan Mari Brown and Mr Dominic Fisher.
When research confirmed that school learners in the Western Cape routinely use anthropometrically mismatched classroom furniture that restricts optimal sitting posture, the idea of creating adjustable, multi-function furniture was sparked. “The KUZE is a brilliant, simple, robust innovation that aims reduces the risk of developing a variety of severe ailments that come from a sedentary lifestyle– in our schools,” says Innovus, the university industry interaction and innovation company of Stellenbosch University, who offered support to the research team. Prof Louw explains that the KUZE can be used as a height adjustable chair but 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 whilst working.
Regular changes in position standing has been shown to increase attention, which directly benefits academic performance. 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. It’s interesting to note that standing has a higher metabolic demand. In this way, the KUZE furthermore helps to reduce the health risks associated with sedentary behaviour (e.g. overweight, diabetes). In addition to its multi-functionality, the KUZE’s design is unique as it doesn’t have any mechanical parts. This feature makes it easy for young children to adjust. Once a child has 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 in their home environment. 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’s easy to attach to create a book or document stand.
While it isn’t yet clear if the Western Cape Education Department will supply the KUZE to learners across the region, it will soon be possible for parents to purchase. 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 well- being of a child. The first 100 chairs are currently being manufactured.