Pleasure during Rehabilitation

A collaboration with Sunnaas Rehabilitation Hospital

> Images of material exploration of different materials, forms and interactions and from interviews with sexologists. 


Keywords: sexual health, pleasure, material exploration, participatory design.

Location: Oslo, Norway
University: AHO The Oslo School of Architecture and Design
Collaborator: Tamara Friedenberger
In collaboration with: the spinal cord injury research group and sexologists at Sunnaas Rehabilitation Hospital.
Year: 2023
The primary purpose of this interdisciplinary research- and innovation project is to explore how persons with spinal cord injury (SCI) can be included in the design process of digital technologies for sexual wellbeing. The project involves persons with SCI to create ideas for human-centred technologies supporting experiences of intimacy and pleasure during rehabilitation.

Every year more than 500.000 people worldwide experience a spinal cord injury (SCI). A SCI is a damage to any part of the spinal cord and it can cause permanent changes in mobility, strength, sensations and other body functions below the site of the injury. The most common secondary health concerns are: having pain, muscle spasms/spasticity, bowel dysfunction, and sexual dysfunction. Sexual dysfunction is experienced by 71.3% of people with SCI, and can negatively affect emotional wellbeing, feelings of independence and general quality of life. Of people reporting sexual dysfunction to be an extreme problem, only 16% receive treatment for it.

This research project focuses specifically on how digital technologies can be designed to support persons with SCI who may experience sexual dysfunction with addressing their sexual wellbeing, by using design methods to ideate new ways of experiencing intimacy, pleasure and bodily comfort with themselves or partners. The research project will not focus on sexual dysfunction or reproductive health, but on how to empower persons with SCI with broader understandings and experiences of sexual wellbeing, including experiences of feeling good, of bodily integrity and dignity, and a sense of self- worth. The research project will advocate for the importance of sexual wellbeing for persons with SCI.