An 82-year-old self-proclaimed "inventor old man" is using his own experience losing function in one side of his body due a stroke to create tools to support others like him in performing everyday tasks more smoothly.
Fusayoshi Jinguji, a resident of the suburban Tokyo city of Mitaka, is most proud of a device he invented to aid those with partial paralysis in putting on their own underwear. The tool that reflects patients' desire for the dignity of being able to at least change their undergarments freely has received praise from experts, and Jinguji is aiming to commercialize his invention.
Jinguji is a former employee of a television broadcast company. He has loved making things since he was a child, and was once told by a teacher that he was just like Thomas Edison. He says he regularly thought about how to make things more convenient, and even invented a tool to improve the accuracy of his golf swing to help him advance his skills in his favorite hobby.
However, Jinguji suffered a stroke in 2015. After spending five months in the hospital, he gave physical therapy his best shot, but the left half of his body remained paralyzed.
With a positive outlook, he thought, "I can still use my right hand, which is my dominant hand, so something will come of it," and didn't worry about his condition except for one situation -- changing his clothes. The hardest thing to put on was his underwear, and asking someone else to help was just too embarrassing.
That's when Jinguji was struck with the inspiration for his invention to help put on underwear. When the garment is stretched across the wooden frame, it both spreads open the elastic waistband and provides stable support. Held in one hand, once one's legs have made it through, if a hook by the handle is released, the underwear slides off of the frame. Using the same concept, Jinguji created a version for those who can't move at their hips to put on socks.
"Being able to do something for yourself on your own is linked to human dignity," says Kawagoe Rehabilitation Hospital director Akira Shimizu of self-help tools like the ones Jinguji has created. "His attitude of not lamenting over what bodily functions he's lost, but instead working to best utilize the rest of his body is amazing. Necessity is the mother of invention."
Among his other inventions, Jinguji counts a tissue holder with an attached trash bag using a plastic supermarket bag, a stand to which a book can be fixed vertically before being turned on its side so a user can read in bed, and other devices that can be used one-handed while lying down. He's also made a device that prevents a duvet, blanket or other items from slipping off while one is sleeping. All of the items have been created with a universally easy-to-use design.
Jinguji has already registered the design for the underwear helper, and is working on improving the device with the help of Shimizu. "I'm glad I had a stroke," Jinguji says. "Being able to help those dealing with the same troubles is my life's mission."