Up until the present day, the typical design of the wheelchair models used by persons with disabilities has generally followed a somewhat dedicated commitment to function over form. From the introduction of the first lightweight, steel, folding, portable wheelchair in 1933 — a model known as the ‘X-brace’ — advances in the design and technology of newer machines have come periodically.
Factors in the advancement of wheelchair models — including propulsion method, control mechanism, and technology — are generally influenced by purpose and price. Newer wheelchair model categories include manual self-propelled, single-arm drive, reclining, standing, sports, and all-terrain designs that serve to enhance mobility freedom for their users.
As the focus on improving the mobility and lifestyles of persons with disabilities continue to garner attention, newer technologies and evolved creativity are responsible for four truly unique wheelchair models. Our post today highlights some remarkable wheelchairs — and how these designs enhance the mobility freedom of the people who use them.
1. Creative wheelchair model at FanX® Salt Lake Comic Convention
When eight-year-old Adrian Paz visited the FanX® Salt Lake Comic Convention, both he and his wheelchair were the focus of attention. Adrian — confined to a wheelchair due to a spina bifida diagnosis at birth — was blown away when he saw his specialized wheelchair costume. It was a Jurassic-park-themed costume that included a rugged jungle cart being pulled by a raptor, complete with harness and tail.
The wheelchair costume was created and donated by the Oregon-based Magic Wheelchair charitable organization and built by Monster City Studios. Magic Wheelchair partners with various design and building companies who donate time and materials for these projects.
The result is an incredible wheelchair design that turns the ordinary into extraordinary — plus, the improved confidence and pride of a young wheelchair user who typically is shy and withdrawn in public. Adrian drew crowds of watchers and well-wishers — much to his surprise and the joy of his parents.
With the help of word-of-mouth referrals and social media excitement, Magic Wheelchair has grown its company and costume offerings considerably. Their line of Justice League costumes have become the talk of the Internet, with more superhero-themed wheelchair outfits in the works.ICYMI! 4 futuristic #wheelchair models you have to see #DisaBodyPosi #WheelchairLife Click To Tweet
2. Floating wheelchair models hit St. Kilda Beach
For Australian double-amputee Amanda Lawrie-Jones, an 11-year absence from the beach was way too long of a break from an activity she used to love. Amanda grew up at the beach as a kid, with her father taking her to swim anytime she wanted to go. However, after being confined to a wheelchair, the sand was as close as she could get to the surf — leaving her in a state of depressed longing.
Enter the Mobi-Chair — a floating beach wheelchair and wheelchair-friendly beach matting launched by Port Philip Council at St. Kilda Lifesaving Club. This unique wheelchair model features floating arm rests that keep the chair primarily above water along with specialized matting that prevents the chair from sinking into the sand.
Proponents of the new chair envision a new population of persons with disabilities now able to enjoy playing in the Australian oceans on a regular basis. The Mobi-Chair is available free for users — they only require pre-booking through the City of Port Philip website.
As a side note, the City of Port Philip h as also expanded the use of wheelchair-friendly matting from the parking lot to the beach areas in an effort to improve the accessibility of the facilities to persons with disabilities.
3. Ergonomic wheelchair models give athletes an edge
For wheelchair-bound athletes — or for those who just want the coolest new wheelchair model design around — remember the name Infinito. Piloted by South Koreans Hoyoung Youn, Sungyub Lee, and Jiyoon Han, the company is created the leading-edge of new wheelchair technology by creating a dynamic, athletic-inspired design that has turned the heads of wheelchair users worldwide.
The new wheelchair model design enhances mobility freedom and gives users confidence and independence using the following unique characteristics:
- Sleek, scissor-inspired structure
- Innovative adjustable seat-height setting for better ergonomics
- Two distinct riding positions: one for cruising and maneuvering, one for putting the user at eye level with standing individuals
- Safety features that include 6-point buckling and a gyroscopic stabilizer
The new Infinito mobility concept channels the spirit of Barcelona’s Dosnoventa bicycle brand to create a new perspective on an age-old design. The result is a decrease in the familiar stigma that many wheelchair users face when piloting a traditional, sterile-feeling wheelchair.
And trust us when we say, those wheelchair users are certainly taking notice.
4. Electric wheelchair models give users a boost of speed
Power mobility device maker Whill made big waves at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) with its most recent powerchair-type wheelchair model — an impressive accessibility vehicle called the Model Ci. At the center of this unique design are the unit’s ‘omni-wheels’ — multiple rollers that encourage a seamless glide over city streets, through off road terrain, or simply around the house. The lightweight, durable construction adds to the Model Ci’s impressive list of futuristic benefits.
Just a few of the technological benefits of the Model Ci wheelchair model includes:
- A lithium-ion battery allowing it to travel 10 miles on a single charge
- Top speeds of five miles per hour, which is the equivalent of jogging speed
- Joystick navigation or the ability to drive it using a smartphone
- The ability to use a smartphone to check how much battery is left
The Whill Model Ci earned a 2018 Best of CES Innovation Award and has the potential to influence wheelchair construction over the next decade.
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