The world's first known wheelchair was developed in China in the 6th century. Today, there are manual and power wheelchairs. Mass manufacturing of wheelchairs was first performed by two engineers who developed a collapsible chair. Harry Jennings and Herbert Everest, who suffered a serious neck injury in a mining accident, also developed the "x brace" support system still used in today's chairs.
The advancements in the modern-day power wheelchairs have greatly benefited today's disabled patients. As a result, global demand for the chairs has soared making power wheelchair manufacturing a truly international endeavor.
Power wheelchairs are categorized as lightweight or heavyweight. The heavyweight chairs are designed to accommodate patients and equipment that exceed 300 pounds. Many of today's options can only be implemented on heavyweight chairs.
The less expensive lightweight chairs utilize a two-pole motor where the heavyweight chairs use a four-pole motor. Power wheelchairs use wither front or rear wheel drive to accommodate flat or raised elevations. Computerized upgrades have been added to many of today's power chairs.
Passive Standing Technology
Due to the growth of the industry, there is great pressure to develop standards and impose basic registration criteria for global manufacturers. In the United States, legislation entitled the Consumer Protection for Wheeled Mobility was passed in 2003. All manufacturers are required to participate in continuing education and to achieve "Assistive Technology Supplier Certification."
The newest power wheelchair option enables users to achieve a passive standing position. This feature has comfort and health benefits for the users. Some of the health benefits include:
* Reduced seating pressure * Decreased bone deterioration * Bladder normalcy * Improved circulation * Improved muscular conditions * Overall improved functional conditions
Demand for these passive standing power wheelchairs currently outweighs supply so interested persons should make arrangements to meet with manufacturers as soon as possible.
Other technology advances include various tilt and level options that add comfort to the seat. Computerized systems to steer, drive and ease navigational challenges are other major advances. Computerized eye motion technology has made power wheelchairs available to just about all disabled persons.