You may believe that self-propelled wheelchairs are a modern invention, but they've been around in some form for longer than you might think. Power wheelchairs have always represented the best of human technology and materials. In one era, personal carriages or hinged designs were considered cutting edge. Nowadays, there are many more options available. Here's a quick look at wheelchairs then, now, and what the future may hold.
1655: Stephan Farffler, a paraplegic watchmaker from Nuremberg, invented the world's first self-propelled wheelchair. It ran on a series of hand cranks and cogwheels.
The 1760s: James Heath of Bath, England, invented the 'Bath Wheelchair.' This resembled a petite carriage and could be pushed by another person or drawn behind a horse. Although notoriously uncomfortable, they became a popular option for English people with limited mobility.
1916: The world's first motorized wheelchair is created in London but does not go into production.
1933: Two mechanical engineers, Harry C. Jennings, Sr., and his disabled friend Herbert Everest, decided to upgrade the wheelchair with that era's cutting-edge technology. They created a steel-framed, comfortably padded wheelchair that was easy to operate, fold, and transport. Their company, Everest & Jennings, dominate the wheelchair market for much of the 20th century.
The 1950s: To assist veterans of World War II, Canadian inventor George Klein creates the first electrically powered wheelchair. Everest & Jennings began manufacturing these power wheelchairs on a mass scale in 1956.
With technology progressing by leaps and bounds, there are sure to be some amazing innovations in mobility devices over the next 50 years. Here are a few features that may appear in the coming decades.
Brain Control. Experiments are underway with brain implants that could let people control a chair by thought alone. This would allow people with virtually any degree of physical disability to use these devices.
Luxurious User Experience. Responsive seat cushions. Extended battery life. Retractable sun and rain shielding. Stair-climbing capability. People of the future may go farther and ride more comfortably than ever.
Automation. The same technology that is trying to give us self-guided cars may extend to wheelchairs as well. Imagine a mobility device that travels on its own via a programmed GPS route by following a simple thought command from the owner.
To get an idea of what today’s modern power wheelchair can offer, check out the Edge 3 Motorized Wheelchair from Quantum Rehab. The design of this highly customizable wheelchair is for the most advanced power chair experience ever.
The Edge 3 is equipped with upgraded SRS (Smooth Ride Suspension) for a comfortable, smoother ride and advanced stability. The Edge 3 can be adapted to meet your seating and positioning needs. TRU-Balance® 3 Power Positioning Systems on a motorized wheelchair offers a wide variety of medical benefits, such as pressure relief, independent repositioning and positioning for improved function and breathing. Some of the options available on TRU-Balance 3 include power recline, power tilt, iLevel® power adjustable seat height, power articulating foot platform and power articulating leg rests.
The Edge 3 is available with industry-first 4.5 mph iLevel. Enjoy up to 12 inches of seat elevation at speeds of 4.5 mph. iLevel provides enhanced stability while completing everyday tasks such as reaching, transferring, cooking, grooming and other daily activities. Discover many more benefits of iLevel Electric Wheelchairs.
The Edge 3 has many standard features that appeal to your needs, including front and rear LED fender lights for greater visibility, a USB charger for your cell phone and drive wheel color accents, so you can make your power wheelchair truly unique and stylish.