Rolling Without Limits

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Athletes Bounce Back With Improved Chair
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Athletes Bounce Back With Improved Chair

Imperial students have remarkably improved the wheelchair so that users, especially those who are actively engaged in sports, can readily get back up to an upright position when knocked down. They have observed how players struggled getting back into position during games that is why they amazingly developed this advanced feature of the wheelchair.

A group of bioengineering students – both undergrads and postgrads – from the Imperial College of London teamed up to augment a sports wheelchair using today’s advanced technology to help users easily get back up. These young people have made such a feature so that people who are into sports can push themselves back onto their chairs without stress and difficulty.

In vigorous contact sports like basketball, players can crash and bump into each other causing them to tip over and fall down the floor. These wheelchair users are strapped into their mobility device enabling them to move their wheels into a frontal position. But because of their position and the current design of the mobility device, sportspeople are having a hard time pushing themselves back up when they fall.

Other players are also having a difficulty getting back because they have weak upper arm strength and have less control over their abdominal muscles. With these situations occurring during a game, the referee needs to stop the game and help those players up which is time consuming as well as burdensome to the people in the game.

So what the bioengineering students did is redesign the chair, augment and enhance its features to help sportspeople re-right their position and get back up on their chairs. They improved the front bumper section of the sports chair and inserted a metal wheel with a casing made of rubber as well as a clutch mechanism into the frame which enable players to push their wheels into an upright position.

The added parts and features of the sports wheelchair provide lockable pivot point between the bumper of the sports chair and the floor that grant the users the ability to push themselves up from the ground and re-right the mobility device and then continue playing. With these features, the game needs not to be paused and the referee and other personnel no longer have to run to the player to assist them get up.

The Imperial team has already tried their enhanced sports chair with the London Titan’s wheelchair basketball members, and the outcome was great. The basketball team highly appreciated the newly designed sports chair.

The bioengineering team from the Imperial College consists of amazing, talented, highly skilled individuals named Simone Castagno, Jacqueline Beddoe-Rosendo, and Bianca de Blasi. The team’s project is part of Rio Tinto Sports Innovation Challenge, a five-year curriculum-based project for Imperial engineering students which aims to encourage and harness these young individuals’ creativity, talent and skills in order to make basketball and other wheelchair games and sports more accessible to people with physical needs and to redesign and improve the training and sporting facilities and equipment available to them.

In order for the device to be available sooner in the market, the team is approaching companies and manufacturers of sports mobility devices and offering their technology without payment. With this sports chair, wheelchair athletes will be empowered during their games and will no longer rely on others to get back up when they get knocked down.


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