Rolling Without Limits

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New Standing Wheelchair Gives Users the Ability to Stand and Move
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New Standing Wheelchair Gives Users the Ability to Stand and Move

Good news! This new standing wheelchair can roll and rise, allowing it's users to stand and move.

The maker of the bionic arm seems to have gone out of their way in the bid to help wheelchair users. On Tuesday, May 23, Doctors at the Center for Bionic Medicine, in collaboration with Jonathan Annicks, trotted out the standing wheelchair at the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab. It's been more than a year since Annicks has been in a wheelchair after being shot accidentally by a gang member when walking to his car.

This could certainly dash a person's hope and Annicks was no exception. “My feet weren't getting enough blood flow,” Annicks stated. He even noted that taking public transportation or an elevator for that matter was nothing short of aggravating. No prizes for guessing, he wanted to be less dependent on others. For instance, he needed to call someone in the kitchen in case he couldn't reach a cup or a plate kept in the cupboard. But much to his delight, things are relatively better since he began testing a hand-operated standing wheelchair.

Annicks deems the wheelchair as amazing and he also noted that he is looking forward to using it more.  According to him, the device does all the work for its user, who just needs to move the little gear to go up. This is without an iota of doubt, a huge step toward finding new ways to help those who heavily rely on wheelchairs in order to reach their goals.

Frank Ursetta, who is an engineer Shirley Ryan Ability Lab, says very few engineers get an opportunity to help people -- enter the bike-like wheelchair complete with a bike chain and gear shifts. Users will be able to transform this into the forward position and resort to directing the wheels back and forth with the help of its unswerving hand drives, Ursetta remarked.

Although standard wheelchairs provide the ability to move, it is restricted to sitting position. With the ability to rise, wheelchair users can not only be more independent but also more active. According to Jonathan, the newly engineered wheelchair allows him to stand up eye level with other people while interacting with them. “I don`t have to look up anymore," he added.

Moreover, he says it is quite simple and extremely efficient. In fact, he claims it is relatively easier than wheeling around in his traditional wheelchair. Basically, there's a whole new avenue of an opportunity of restraint that has been ousted and just independence, Jonathan says.

The nearly market-ready standing wheelchair has been in the works for 30 years. Now, designers are looking for someone to manufacture it since it would be imperative to customize the revolutionary wheelchair based on the size of the user. As far as the development of the wheelchair is concerned, NIDILRR (National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research) provided the means in the form of a grant.

The Shirley Ryan Ability Lab is waiting with bated breath for more people to try this contemporary wheelchair. To make things easier for himself, Jonathan says the wheelchair should also include a cup holder and pads. You can contact the Center for Bionic Medicine at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLa b by sending an email at lmcgee@sralab.org.

Photo: WH Kubik / flickr

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