Design a solution to improve wheelchair efficiency by identifying and reducing the factors that have effect

Steven Johnstone

BEng (Hons) Mechanical Manufacturing Engineering
Newcastle College

ABSTRACT

There have been many improvements made to self-propelled wheelchairs (SPWCs) in recent years. Such improvements have brought lighter, stronger, more tailored products to market. This has been driven by the growing demands and popularity of wheelchair sports such as basketball, rugby and racing. Today’s SPWCs are designed and manufactured using modern materials and techniques with greater thought given to the end user than ever before. However, even after all these innovations, the basic layout remains the same demonstrating testament that the original design where the use of push rims mounted to the rear wheels is still the preferred method of propulsion. This solution has the advantage of being lightweight, simple, requiring minimal maintenance and provides an ideal gearing for normal use.

It has been documented that a problem with push rims is that long term use causes fatigue and places excessive repetitive strain on the upper limbs and shoulders of the SPWC user. Also, in comparison to walking, a wheelchair has a gross energy efficiency of 10% or lower. Demonstrating more can be done to improve the existing designs.

This report identifies the shortcomings of existing generic SPWC designs, defining their impact on wheelchair users. The findings significantly contributed towards the creation of a detailed design brief and specification for concept development, with the ambition to construct of a prototype for testing, so that a new product may be developed to launch.

KEYWORDS: Self Propelled Wheelchair, Spinal Cord Injury, Fatigue, Upper Limb Injury, Design, Efficiency.

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Article Data:

  • Author: Steven Johnstone
  • Title: Design a solution to improve wheelchair efficiency by identifying and reducing the factors that have effect
  • Issue: Seven Bridges Vol. 6 (2018)
  • Publication date: 05/07/18