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Thread: Help us design a wheelchair

  1. #11
    Hi! I live and teach in SW Ohio. Due to a surgery that damaged my femoral nerve, I have become a part time crutch user and part time wheelchair user. I use a power chair (that I picked up used) at school and an ill-fitting Q7 (that was done by a nightmarish dme) everywhere else. Based on my experience, my wish list would include:
    -Some way to make fitting a chair more user friendly so that even bottom feeder dme's could get it
    right.
    -The obvious lower price we all want and need-my manual chair should not cost more than a nice
    used car.
    -Ultra-lightweight with an integrated lightweight power add-on and freewheel, would be ideal. I want
    the exercise from using my manual and the freedom of my power chair in a package I can transport
    by myself without having to drive a van. Again, cost will be a factor. The $4000+ chair, $500
    freewheel, and $6000+ power add-on is a ridiculous amount of money that I just don't have.
    -A design that will not throw me face first onto the ground every time my casters hit a crack.
    I know I'm asking for the moon but thanks for listening and, if you manage to come up with something close, I would love to try it out for you!:-) I'm sure my kids at school would give you some great feedback as well.

  2. #12
    briddellm has an excellent idea. Come up with a "chair" that is used to find the size of the chair you will buy. Something like the thing that use to be in shoe stores to measure your feet for shoes. I picture an inexpensive plastic device like a chair with sliding parts to measure length, widths, heights, angles, COG. So even the most inept DME could get it right.

  3. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by baldfatdad View Post
    briddellm has an excellent idea. Come up with a "chair" that is used to find the size of the chair you will buy. Something like the thing that use to be in shoe stores to measure your feet for shoes. I picture an inexpensive plastic device like a chair with sliding parts to measure length, widths, heights, angles, COG. So even the most inept DME could get it right.
    Some believe that chair already exists.

  4. #14
    The oh so elusive an mythical chair that has sliding parts and can be used to get the measurements and fit just right.....like snuffleupagus.

    My advice would be to make it in as many colors as possible.

  5. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by voxina View Post
    Being able to personalize it makes it more socially acceptable and makes you more comfortable using it from an aesthetics and body image view point
    Anyone else have thoughts on chair aesthetics?
    How much does it matter to you?

  6. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by briddellm View Post
    I know I'm asking for the moon but thanks for listening and, if you manage to come up with something close, I would love to try it out for you!:-) I'm sure my kids at school would give you some great feedback as well.
    We just had an interview with an Ohio Ti-Lite owner. He gave us some really good feedback, and it looks like he has some spare parts and tubing he's hooking us up with. We're going to try and make a prototype at the end of the design phase. We'll be posting some sketches and ideas here in a bit. First, we're doing tons of research.

  7. #17
    -Full-time grad student here. I use my wheelchair as my primary mobility device out of the house, having switched recently from cane use. I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which causes chronic pain and joint dislocations among other things.
    -I have a Colours Spazz-G that fits well, and a second-hand Quickie Ti that doesn't
    -I appreciate the Spazz for its fit and adjustability as a first chair, and the price was definitely right (>$1500 with solid backrest, Spox and natural-fit rims). The thing is heavy as crap and not especially attractive. The Quickie Ti just has too high of an FSH for me personally, not a chair problem, but the 1" monotube design is flawed and creates too much flex. I loooooooooove how light it is, though.

    Aesthetics are hugely important to me, as my classes have me taking lessons with Met opera stars and collaborating with the LA Times. I cannot, CANNOT have a "hospital"-looking chair, and I also don't like the nuts-and-bolts look of the Spazz or other adjustable chairs (Icon exempt; it's not nuts-and-bolts, but it does still look weird to me). By contrast, look at the TiLite TR 3. The thing could be in an Apple commercial, and its sleek, curved, titanium design is in the same design family. Little splashes of color, not loud. That's not for everyone--Colours caters to people who want bold, loud chairs, for instance--but I say pick a visual aesthetic consistent with the kind of chair you're making and stick with it. If you build a Ferrari chair, channel Oracing; if you build a highly adjustable chair, maybe try embracing the cyberpunk look with all those nuts and bolts (maybe better to work with the appearance of the chair than to fight it). In terms of color, keep in mind that some of us don't want to be paranoid of scratches and want to minimize their appearance, which is why I like the satin titanium finish.

    A final thought: particularly because you're students, pick one new thing and do it well, or build a chair that meets an unmet need. The rigid ultralightweight market has a lot of people who have been doing this for a long time, so you need to be clear about your raison d'etre. Maybe your chair will be about easy maintenance: the things sowseng mentioned about caster alignment and toe-in, toe-out resonated with me. Or maybe you want to make a lighter adjustable to compete with the ZRA. But do try to solve a problem, don't just reinvent the wheel(chair) and throw a well-placed smartphone holder on it.

    Good luck!

  8. #18
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffAdams View Post
    The oh so elusive an mythical chair that has sliding parts and can be used to get the measurements and fit just right.....like snuffleupagus.

    My advice would be to make it in as many colors as possible.
    Smart a** :P

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