The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, recently renamed to Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, has developed a new wheelchair that allows its users to switch between a sitting and standing positions while retaining the ability to move and steer the chair in any direction. The fully mechanical device uses bicycle chains to transfer power from a tank tread-like push bars to either the wheels or the system that lifts its user.
The fully mechanical device uses bicycle chains to transfer power from a tank tread-like push bars to either the wheels or the system that lifts its user.
The raising/lowering mechanism is intuitive and the tread bars are similar to operate compared to traditional wheelchairs. The user can remain upright to converse with others while walking down a flat sidewalk and lower as necessary to overcome uneven surfaces or simply to sit down to eat.
A belt strap is used to keep the legs from bending while standing to help maintain a proper upright posture, which should help not just with interacting with others, but to promote better blood circulation, prevent butt sores, and improve a number of other issues related to sitting in a traditional wheelchair for long periods of time.
It’s not clear at this point when the device will be made into a real product and if there will be electric or only manually powered versions.