The standard manual wheelchair is an effective, but inefficient means of transport particularly for people who have experienced a stroke and have a resultant hemiplegia. Having summarised the literature regarding wheelchair provision for hemiplegic subjects, the research team identified a lack of suitable provision. In response to this issue, and in conjunction with a stroke rehabilitation team, stroke patients and an engineer, the team designed a novel ergonomic self-propelled steering (ESP1) mechanism kit which could be attached to a standard manual wheelchair. The novel steering mechanism kits enables the user to steer with the footplate, and propel the wheelchair with only one pushrim. In addition, the kits can be attached to either side for use by either the right or left handed users and enables the wheelchair to be steered independently from the propulsion.
The ESP incorporates two innovations: a gear differential built into one drive wheel and an engageable/disengageable foot steering involving one front castor. The axle is not affected and can still be removed in order that the wheelchair can be collapsed for storage. These devices are fitted to the wheelchair on the users’ functional side and are operated independently by the individuals with a cerebrovascular accident (CVA) who use a wheelchair. The differential enables a single pushrim to drive both rear wheels equally resulting in the wheelchair moving in a straight line with steering that can be employed as required.
This project was funded with a Department of Health HTD grant.