New Wheelchair Climbs Five Inch Stairs

Huge barriers for the handicapped:
stairs; © PixelQuelle.de

For most people confined to wheelchairs, elevators and ramps are essential to daily travel. Everyday tasks such as reaching a high shelf, grocery shopping, or even talking to people face to face is sometimes impossible or requires assistance.

The system designed at the Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation (BIR) provides the user with operating functions which allow the user to climb stairs or curbs, raise the system to eye level of someone who is standing, lower it to sit comfortably under a desk or table and even travel over uneven terrain such as sand, grass or gravel.

“This wheelchair is like nothing we’ve seen before,” says Tricia Henley, P.T., physical therapist and coordinator of the wheelchair clinic at BIR. “The user can lean forward to shake hands or lean backward and the system moves with them,” says Henley “When in the balance or ‘eye-level’ mode, this function is especially important should the user accidentally fall forward, sideways or backward. The chair will actually lower itself down to a safe position.”

According to Blake Utter, recipient of the new system, the stair function is the most impressive. It has the capability to climb stairs or even curbs as high as five inches and depending on the user’s physical abilities, stair-climbing can be performed independently or with assistance. “Climbing stairs just isn’t an option for wheelchair users,” says Utter. “Each potential user at BIR goes through an assessment to determine if they are a good fit for the wheelchair. It all depends on their level of impairment, function and physical abilities.”

“When elevators are not available, especially in an emergency situation, the stair-climbing function will definitely come in handy,” Utter adds.

MEDICA.de; Source: Baylor Health Care System