Wheelchairs have been redesigned, transformed and improved in order to cater the many different needs of its users. But a team of mechanical engineers uniquely upgraded the mobility device wherein the person can get up and out of the chair without anyone’s assistance. The upgrade also includes a built-in walker.
The traditional factory-manufactured mobility device is ingeniously upgraded with these two new features, and it is now called as the Wheelchair Access Assistant. The first feature is the electric seat that slowly lifts the user and helps him stand up without the assistance of anyone. The second is the integration of the detachable walker that enables the user to get out from the chair and take a walk.
The Wheelchair Access Assistant is the idea of a team of graduates of Purdue’s College of Mechanical Engineering. They built the chair for their senior design project. The team is composed of four mechanical engineer students:
- Katherine Frangos, hailing from Conroe, Texas
- William Graves, a resident of Huntington, Indiana
- Kimberly Pund, a local of Ferdinand Indiana
- Kris Miller, hailing from Terre Haute, Indiana
Pund stated that they considered a number of concepts and designs before they finalized and agreed on one. They wanted their project to be something that will make a difference in the lives of many people especially those who have physical limitations. She further said that it was her father who gave the initial idea of creating a piece of equipment that will help people get up without the assistance of a caregiver or another individual.
Out of the broad idea presented to them, they managed to extract the very concept that gave birth to the Wheelchair Access Assistant. They wanted to build a mobility device that grants independence to its users not only in going around but in standing up and getting out from the chair.
Graves said that the traditional wheelchair’s primary purpose is to transport the individual. But with its design and structure, another individual is needed to physically assist and support the wheelchair user to get in and out of the mobility chair. He then added that his team wanted to address this issue and so they came up with their project’s extraordinary design.
The Wheelchair Access Assistant works by following these simple steps:
- First – Don’t forget to lock the wheels by engaging the brakes. The brake switches are attached in the front wheels’ legs.
- Second – Extend both armrests slowly and carefully.
- Third – Lock the armrests using the crossbar attached in the right armrest.
- Fourth – Carefully deploy and position the scissor mechanism of the armrests. Do it one after the other and see to it that both are well-positioned and firmly established.
- Fifth – After everything is set, activate the electric seat. Take the remote found at the back of the seat to operate the seat lift. Press the button and wait for the chair to lift you up slowly.
- Sixth – When you are already up, hold firmly on the armrests and detach or remove the walker from the chair. And now you are ready to take a walk.
The Office of Technology Commercialization of Purdue Research Foundation find the equipment promising. And so they are looking for companies to partner with them to further develop and manufacture the device.