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Thread: Designing a wheelchair storage system for a car

  1. #1

    Designing a wheelchair storage system for a car

    Hi there,

    My name is Sigrid Tusek, I am a student from the Swinburne University of Technology, studying Product Design Engineering and am designing a device that helps with wheelchair-car transfer and storage of the wheelchair however I need your help to discover what people really need so please fill out the survey below I am keen to hear your thoughts. Thank you,

    https://www.esurveycreator.com/s/b822841

  2. #2
    Senior Member rdf's Avatar
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    Hi Sigrid - Thanks for seeking input. There really isn't much out there for storing / transporting chairs that isn't a pain the the behind, and/or too expensive.

    A simpler system than those currently available would be a big winner. You should look at all options and not be confined by thinking about designs that are already out there. Be radical, think ease of putting the chair on/in the storage device from the driver's seat.

    What kind of designs do you have in mind, if any at this point? Thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigrid View Post
    Hi there,

    My name is Sigrid Tusek, I am a student from the Swinburne University of Technology, studying Product Design Engineering and am designing a device that helps with wheelchair-car transfer and storage of the wheelchair however I need your help to discover what people really need so please fill out the survey below I am keen to hear your thoughts. Thank you,

    https://www.esurveycreator.com/s/b822841
    Please donate a dollar a day at http://justadollarplease.org.
    Copy and paste this message to the bottom of your signature.

    Thanks!

  3. #3
    Senior Member rdf's Avatar
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    I would like to see someone develop a simple rack design (think camping backpack frame type of rack) that can be mounted from the rear driver side window/door that one could hang their chair on (after folding down the back for rigid chairs) and tie it down, after removing the wheels and storing them in the vehicle. It wouldn't be the most aesthetic, but it would be functional for me. I'm tired of loading the chair in the car.
    Please donate a dollar a day at http://justadollarplease.org.
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    Thanks!

  4. #4
    We have discussed this system before (currently only available in Europe as far as I know), and while it does not take care of the issue of the transfer, it is totally cool for loading the manual wheelchair into a van, station wagon or SUV:

    http://www.abiliquip.com/loader-fx

    The transfer issue is something completely separate for the most part. In addition, this does not resolve the issue for the person who uses a power wheelchair.

    (KLD)

  5. #5
    Senior Member ~Lin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SCI-Nurse View Post
    We have discussed this system before (currently only available in Europe as far as I know), and while it does not take care of the issue of the transfer, it is totally cool for loading the manual wheelchair into a van, station wagon or SUV:

    http://www.abiliquip.com/loader-fx
    That looks really similar to the TMN Robot. I wonder how the price compares, I was really shocked when I found out the TMN Robot cost 20,000. You could buy a new vehicle for that price.
    Board Member of Assistance Dog Advocacy Project working in Education. Feel free to ask me any service dog questions!

    I am not paralyzed. I have a genetic connective tissue disorder with neuro complications and a movement disorder.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by rdf View Post
    Hi Sigrid - Thanks for seeking input. There really isn't much out there for storing / transporting chairs that isn't a pain the the behind, and/or too expensive.

    A simpler system than those currently available would be a big winner. You should look at all options and not be confined by thinking about designs that are already out there. Be radical, think ease of putting the chair on/in the storage device from the driver's seat.

    What kind of designs do you have in mind, if any at this point? Thanks
    So I have a few ideas and I really want to create something simple compared to the Abi-Loader.

    Tackling transferring:
    -Bars could fold down over the driver's door so the driver could lift themselves across (this would make up part of the storage structure - or act as pick ups for the wheelchair for roof storage)
    -The driver's seat could have a retractable seat/arm to transfer

    The storage issue:
    -The wheelchair could be mounted in the back passenger door.
    -I could design a thinner driver's seat so the folding frame wheelchair could fit under the seat
    -Design a more compact, fold up, wheelchair for travelling
    -Like you said a simple rack but it could be mounted to the back passenger door, so you hook the rigid frame onto it, it swings the chair onto the inside of the back passenger door via a rail system and then shuts the back door.
    -Could attach to the tow bar similar to bike rack (huge transfer issue)

    Ideas seem to depend on the type of wheelchair that is being transported, how much of an issue is space at car parks?

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Sigrid View Post
    Tackling transferring:
    -Bars could fold down over the driver's door so the driver could lift themselves across (this would make up part of the storage structure - or act as pick ups for the wheelchair for roof storage)
    You need to take into consideration the ergonomics of this. Overhead lifting (such as from a trapeze or even an existing car "sissy bar" is one of the worst motions for causing shoulder impingement, which is highly implicated in the long term development of shoulder pain, and damage such as rotator cuff tears. This is already a major problem for many people with SCI as they get older and is due to repetitive stress to the shoulder.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigrid View Post
    -The driver's seat could have a retractable seat/arm to transfer
    These already exist. Look into seats that lift out of the car or truck to the ground level, then still require a transfer (not everyone can do even this type of transfer) and then lift the person into place in either the driver's or passenger's position inside the car or truck.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigrid View Post
    The storage issue:
    -The wheelchair could be mounted in the back passenger door.
    -I could design a thinner driver's seat so the folding frame wheelchair could fit under the seat
    -Design a more compact, fold up, wheelchair for travelling[sic]
    -Like you said a simple rack but it could be mounted to the back passenger door, so you hook the rigid frame onto it, it swings the chair onto the inside of the back passenger door via a rail system and then shuts the back door.
    -Could attach to the tow bar similar to bike rack (huge transfer issue)
    Functional wheelchairs that allow the person who needs one to be active in the community are not cheap. They also are highly customized, and need to meet very specific weight, safety, and ergonomic standards. This is even more important for community mobility than it is for home mobility. The idea of replacing a wheelchair that is so customized with a "one-size fits all" travel wheelchair is not practical nor functional. Under seat storage like you describe would also be a major issue with related to driver or passenger height, crash safety, and again the need to manually lift and disassemble the chair. Rigid frame chairs are generally lighter and more functional, so it would also be a step backwards for someone who uses one to go to a folding chair just to be able to get it into a vehicle, whether a driver or passenger.[/quote]

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigrid View Post
    Ideas seem to depend on the type of wheelchair that is being transported, how much of an issue is space at car parks?
    Availability of wheelchair accessible parking spaces is a major issue, esp. those that are van rate (wider with a wider access aisle to accommodate lifts, etc.). In general, it is safe to say there are rarely enough, and abuse of permits to use them is widespread, even in the USA which has laws regulating their number and who has access. Enforcement varies widely.

    Good luck. I would suggest that you spend some time not just surveying people who use wheelchairs, but actually going out into the community with them to observe them in their current wheelchairs and the equipment and devices they already use for accessing private vehicles. Try out some of the equipment and devices yourself. Also, work together with someone (usually and OT or PT) who is experienced and knowledgeable about wheelchair user ergonomics; both of wheelchair use and such activities as transfers, lifting, and shoulder and upper extremity stresses.

    (KLD)

  8. #8
    I would be interested in a variation of the Braun "Car Topper?". One that would accommodate a lightweight, rigid chair w folding back. The cartopper would release a lifting arm which would stabilize chair while quick release wheels were removed and stowed in vehicle. Back would be folded down then the arm would lift and stow frame which would be stored in weather proof, rooftop compartment as the current cartopper does. Because the back would be folded the compartment would be fairly low profile on roof. The benefits of this systemm would be that wheels could easily be removed and back folded while chair was stabilized by lifting arm and chair would not have to be lifted and stored indside vehicle. i once e mailed Braun about this suggested piece of equipment but never heard back.

  9. #9
    Just thinking:
    It seems technology is very close if not there, to have a wireless remote to drive a chair when you're not in it. That said, after transfer to vehicle perhaps the chair could be "driven" to a system to haul it into the car or minivan.

    Also, I've always wanted "suicide doors" as an option available on a car. So much extra space. This could be regarded as medical necessity, somewhat like medical marijuana. I've heard of this being done after-market .

    A wireless wheelchair and suicide doors: then devise a chair hauler for rear area of car or mini-van.

    Glad to hear someone is interested in this issue. Good luck!

  10. #10
    I remember when Amigo 1st started marketing scooters that they also offered an Oldsmobile Cutlass modified to have a suicide door on the driver side to allow the scooter to be more easily stowed. I have often wondered since whether bodyshops could easily reverse the hinge side of the rear door on 4 door vehicles to convert the average 4 door sedan to suicide doors. Rear seat could then be removed to make stowing chair easier. Does anyone familiar with bodywork on cars know if this would be feasible?

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