Personal observation using stair railings finds hand placements and finger grips varying both going up and down stairs. At times the palm of the hand braces weight, fingers are used for a “brake” balance, or a full grip is used in holding weight against or pulling up the rail. It seems there could be a better system for that touchpoint between hand and rail. Inspired by the sport of rock climbing and the emergence of at-home rock wall installations, imagine hand holds custom designed for this purpose being affixed to bannisters for providing weight bearing and gripping mechanisms. They could be placed to alleviate joint strain, while improving muscle tone. "Footsteps" could concurrently be installed on the stairs for additional cueing. Options could be taken each time one uses the stairs, making climbing or descending a thoughtful, conscious, and fun effort.
House dwellers could use holds simply as adaptive objects, have them become part of a structured physiotherapy program, or incorporate them to a supportive community program focusing on technique, physical strength, mental agility, and balanced movement.
Holds could be either standardized or 3D printed customizations depending on type of rail. They could have the appearance of sport equipment; be elegantly designed to compliment existing decor; or be engineered to integrate into a Universal Design scheme. It appears most existing rails are wooden; double rails (on both sides of stair) would be ideal.
A simple, Ikea-like starter version could be made; with add-ons such as color choice (possible color blindness adaptation); sensor lighting when first/last hold is touched; sensors testing variable weight strength and timing for communication to physiologist or trainer; and/or gamification (think elliptical trainer program).
Testing and standards required for any permitting or insurance regulations would have to be investigated.