Wheelchairs and wheelchair lifts are invaluable for people with mobility issues, allowing them to move around easily and independently. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 65 million people worldwide use wheelchairs, which is around 10% of the disabled population or 1% of the total population.
Recently, a group of graduates from Purdue’s School of Mechanical Engineering, Indiana, designed an innovative, ergonomic wheelchair. The Wheelchair Access Assistant incorporates an electric seat lift and integrated walker that helps users sit into and get out of a traditional wheelchair more easily.
The design was developed by the students as part of their senior design project with the aim to make a difference in the lives of wheelchair users by enhancing their mobility and independence. The team wanted to create a unique design that would allow the wheelchair user to get in and out of the chair without assistance. They studied the kinematics required to stand and succeeded in creating an ergonomic design that helps the wheelchair user through the desired motion and to an upright position.
Generally, traditional wheelchair devices are designed for ease of transport rather than ingress and egress. Caregivers are subject to strain when assisting a wheelchair user to get in and out of the device, which can happen several times a day.
The new Purdue University wheelchair features an electric seat lift and a walker can be easily installed onto a conventional wheelchair by simply removing the existing seat and armrests. The seat lift can be easily operated by pressing a button. The walker is deployed by extending the device armrest, locking crossbar and lowering scissor legs to the ground and locking them. The brake switches can be attached to the legs of the front wheels and walker glides connected to the seat lift structure, ensuring that it is installed at once.
Advancements in technology have led to the development of different types of accessibility devices that make life much easier for people with disabilities. In addition to innovative wheelchair designs, there are various types of vertical and incline platform lifts that provide wheelchair users with safe and easy floor-to-floor access in residential and commercial buildings.