Life in a wheelchair can be challenging and tough. There are areas that one can’t go to and things that one may not be able to do. However, with advances in science, technology and engineering, several modern inventions have made using and living in a wheelchair more convenient and comfortable. For instance, a wheelchair that can help one climb the stairs will make visiting areas with no ramps possible and easy. Similarly, a bicycle wheelchair will help enjoy the pleasures of cycling. Here is more information about useful modern inventions that make life more comfortable for wheelchair users.
Electric Car for Wheelchair Users
Electric cars for wheelchair users make driving easy and convenient, as well as eco-friendly. These battery-powered cars are low-speed and come equipped with safety requirements, such as headlamps, safety belts, safety glass windshield, mirror, turn signals and taillights. Charging the battery is easy and convenient and models come equipped with onboard chargers that can be plugged into a standard 110-volt outlet.
Entering and exiting the electric car is also easy for a wheelchair user. Some models, like the AMKAR, have a wheelchair accessible ramp that can be opened or closed at the push of a button while others like the Kenguru have a flip-open back and the wheelchair user can wheel himself right inside and the wheelchair locks into position. Controls for maneuvering the car are easy-to-access and within reach of the wheelchair user.
Most importantly, these cars are eco-friendly and make living and moving around the neighborhood easy and convenient for a wheelchair user.
- Using an Electric Car: Photos and description of the Kenguru electric car for wheelchair users.
- The Kenguru Electric Car: Detailed information about the specifications and cost of the Kenguru electric car.
- Wheelchair-Accessible Vehicles: Information about AMKAR, a battery-powered car that makes moving around in neighborhoods, colleges and other areas possible for a wheelchair user.
A wheelchair bicycle is a modern invention in which either a bicycle wheel or a bicycle is attached to the wheelchair allowing the user greater speed and accessibility when moving around in areas like malls or airports while remaining stable, safe and secure. There are several models and types available.
The wheelchair bicycles offered by Frank Mobility, have low-geared three and seven speeds, a low center of gravity for the wheelchair to increase stability, a quick release coupling system and several standard features such as luggage rack, brakes, chain guard, adjustable foot rest, parking brakes for the wheelchair, folding seat with 3 angles and a lot more. Plus, these tandem bicycles can be used by kids and adults, making mobility and maneuverability much easier for a wheelchair user.
- Wheelchair Bicycle: Learn more about a wheelchair user who invented a wheelchair bicycle to make moving around easy and convenient.
- The Wheelchair Bicycle Tandem: A wheelchair bicycle that allows a wheelchair user to enjoy the pleasures of cycling with an assistant.
Solar Powered Wheelchair
a solar powered wheelchair is an eco-friendly and useful invention that makes charging a power wheelchair simple and easy. All one has to do is charge the battery for the wheelchair using solar panels that are attached to the top of the wheelchair. Solar power reduces the wheelchair users’ worry about power supply for charging the wheelchair and increases the distance that they can travel on a fully-charged wheelchair.
- About the Solar Powered Wheelchair: Find information on the solar-powered wheelchair designed by a Taiwanese research team.
- Solar Powered Wheelchair Details: Details about a solar-powered wheelchair designed by a UAE national in the Emirates.
Stair Climbing Wheelchair
Climbing stairs is not the easiest task for a wheelchair user. Unfortunately, there are still many places where ramps are not available and so, it becomes really tough for a user, however a stair climbing wheelchair overcomes this challenge with ease. The stair climbing wheelchair makes ascending and descending steps possible for a wheelchair user. The modern-day version of this invention, the Topchair, senses the first step using infrared sensors and extends the climbing mechanism and then, automatically senses the last step and retracts the mechanism.
The stair climbing wheelchair has 4 wheels, 2 rubber tracks to move across steps and curbs easily and a microprocessor that makes driving easy and secure. The wheelchair can move up 300 steps on a fully charged battery and users can switch from “flat” mode to “step” mode by just pressing a button.
- The First Stair Climbing Wheelchair: Information about the iBOt, the first wheelchair that made climbing stairs possible for wheelchair users. Was discontinued later due to high costs.
- Stair Climbing Wheelchairs Today: Details about Topchair, a powered wheelchair that allows users to climb and descend stairs easily.
- More about the Topchair: Official website and information on the Topchair. Includes links to specifications, history and photos of the invention in use.
Pet lovers feel awful when their much-loved dogs are diagnosed with a health problem that impacts mobility. Dogs, after all, love moving around, going for walks with their owners or watching kids play at the park. Dogs with conditions like arthritis, cervical, spinal or disk problems, hip dysplasia or other neurological problems often have their mobility hindered. Dog wheelchairs or dog carts can be a real blessing for these canines.
A dog wheelchair consists of a frame, wheels, a harness and a saddle. Some dog wheelchairs may also have stirrups, foot slings or counterweights for adding balance and stability. While it is possible to buy a readymade wheelchair for a handicapped dog, it is also possible to get one customized to suit a pet’s measurement and handicap. Most dog wheelchairs cost upwards of $200.
- Wheelchairs for Dogs: Frequently asked questions and answers about using a wheelchair for a handicapped dog.
- Helping Handicapped Dogs with Wheelchairs: Links to different types of wheelchairs for dogs offered by the K-9 company.
- Using a Dog Wheelchair: Photo of a dog using a wheelchair.
Wheelchairs of the Past
Modern wheelchairs are very different from the ancient counterparts. According to Rory A. Cooper in Wheelchair Selection and Configuration, the earliest use of a wheelchair can be traced back to the sixth century AD. However, it was during the Renaissance that a movable, “rolling chair” came into existence and during the 16th century, King Philip II of Spain who suffered from gout had one made for him with luxurious upholstery and adjustable leg rests and back rests. Louis XIV also used a wheelchair or roulette to move around after an operation that restricted his movements. The roulette gained popularity, and according to Cooper, in 1700 the Palace of Versailles had nearly 20 of these historical wheelchairs.
The wheelchair as we know it today was developed only in the 18th century and had two large wooden wheels in the front and a caster wheel at the rear. These wheelchairs were decorative, heavy and difficult to operate without a lot of assistance. The amputees of the Civil War and World War I received lighter wheelchairs than these but even then, the chairs weighed nearly 50-pounds and didn’t enable mobility and independence.
The modern wheelchair, light and practical, was developed by a paraplegic, Herbert Everest and his engineer friend, Harry Jennings. This wheelchair was foldable and made of aircraft-steel which made it durable and usable. The two formed the E&J Company which still makes wheelchairs. It was their company that supplied WWII veterans with chrome wheelchairs.
However, even then, the wheelchairs were not customized to the user and didn’t facilitate a great deal of mobility. It was only when wheelchair users began using their chairs to participate in sports, thanks to the efforts of Sir Ludwig Guttmann and others, that manufacturers began creating chairs that were comfortable, durable, aesthetically pleasing and most importantly, practical.
- History of the Wheelchair: A timeline of the history of the wheelchair.
- History of Wheelchair Sports: Information on Sir Ludwig Guttmann and his efforts to introduce and popularize wheelchair sports.
The wheelchair with its many modern avatars makes mobility convenient and easy for its users. Inventions, like the wheelchair bicycle and stair climbing wheelchair, enable users to enjoy life to the fullest and go just about anywhere their heart desires. Using a wheelchair no longer means being confined to a single room or house. These modern inventions surely make life easier and better for all wheelchair users.