It is not the first, but it definitely has a number of significant advancements compared to the previous ones. The new standing wheelchair developed by rehabilitation engineers and experts at Minneapolis Veterans Affairs is soon to hit the market to give hope to paraplegic veterans.
The PVA or Paralyzed Veterans of America, a service organization for veterans, spearheaded the funding for the development of the first new and improved version of the standing wheelchair. This mobility device has several design changes and other vital enhancements that provide a better aid or support to veterans especially in improving and increasing their functional reach.
According to the director of extended care and rehabilitation of Minneapolis VA, Dr. Gary Goldish, the prototype has greater and improved stability. Thanks to its platform and its four wheels that are in contact with the ground or floor at all times, making the chair able to reliably shift the weight of its user front and back.
Goldish also added that their team made a few modifications which include the adding of a drive wheel. This specific wheel separates the push rim from the chair’s tire, allowing users to push and move just like the way they do when seated. The wheel enables the individual to move naturally even while standing. And also, with this new adaptation, the transfer of load or weight between the front and back becomes easier and faster which improves the mobility as well as stability.
The prototype was tested at Minneapolis VA and the first person to experience how the new chair works was John Christensen who has been a paraplegic for about two decades. With just a few, easy clicks, Christensen was able to reach a book and take it out from the top shelf without the help of anyone.
To him, the chair makes his life a little easier and a bit more comfortable. There is no need to ask for someone’s help to do simple tasks and it feels great to regain a little of that independence.
The engineers still have a lot of tinkering to do with the new chair before it will be released to the market. But what this standing wheelchair can do is very promising at helping paraplegic veterans live productive lives and feel an improved sense of well-being.