Rolling Without Limits

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BYU Students Create a DIY Wheelchair for Brothers with SMA
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BYU Students Create a DIY Wheelchair for Brothers with SMA

In the mobility community, many of the breakthroughs and advances come from acts of kindness and compassion. This was exhibited yet again when several engineering students at Brigham Young University heard about the story of two brothers with spinal muscular atrophy.

The engineers knew about the condition of the brothers, Tanner and Skyler; spinal muscular atrophy is a degenerative disease that has placed both Tanner and Skyler in wheelchairs. More than that, the BYU engineers also heard about the family’s struggles to keep the brothers in nice wheelchairs.

After doing their research, engineers at the engineering capstone program discovered that Tanner and Skyler were using heavy, manual wheelchairs that were often burdensome to move around in. The family was unable to afford motorized wheelchairs which are lighter and easier to move, but also much more expensive.

They then went to work and designed a lightweight wheelchair. More than that, they designed it in a way that the manufacturing cost was significantly less and the design of the chair was intended specifically for children.

Justin Esther, the father of the boys, instantly saw how much easier life can be with a lighter chair. Ecstatic to have been given the chairs for his boys, he’s finding it easier to get his boys where they need to go because the chair is easy to transport unlike the bulky chairs they had previously been in. The do-it-yourself wheelchair has added a whole new degree of mobility to their lives.

Not only did this creation make things much easier on Tanner, Skyler, and their parents, but it shows that mobility solutions don’t always have to be expensive. With some good old ingenuity and a genuine compassion for others, BYU has proven that anyone can have access to affordable and accessible answers to their mobility needs.

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