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Thread: Attachment for Manual Wheelchair that Converts to Powered Wheelchair

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  1. #1

    Post Attachment for Manual Wheelchair that Converts to Powered Wheelchair

    Good morning everyone!

    First, I would like to thank the community for the privilege to post on this forum. I am positing because my team and I need help.

    I am an engineering student at the University of Central Florida. My team and I have been working on this device named the ProPulse for the past few months. The device is an electric wheel that attaches to any manual wheelchair and converts it to fully electric. The initial mounts take about 10min to put on the wheelchair but after that, it takes about 5seconds to attach and detach the device.

    The entire goal behind the project is to give more independence and freedom of mobility to all wheelchair users. It seems like there is a serious problem with insurance companies paying for powered wheelchairs and even if they do, the user has to pay for the expensive wheelchair accessible van. I know that the smartdrive does exist but its crazy expensive and doesn't even turn for the user!!!!

    My question is, what can we do to make sure our design will increase the wheelchair communities quality of life the most we possibly can? Is this a device you need or would even be interested in?

    Price: What is the max you are truly willing to pay out of pocket? $1000, $1500, $2000, etc?

    Mounting: This is an interesting one. Our team needs a relatively consistent location to mount the device, currently we chose the axle since (from our understanding) it doesn't change too much from user to user. Any thoughts on this? Better locations? Specific type of mounting you would like to have?

    Range: How many miles do you expect it to last? 6miles, 10miles, 15miles, etc

    Weight: What is the maximum amount of weight you would be okay with? 8lbs, 12lbs, 20lbs, etc

    Immediate No-No: What would you HATE for this device to have or lack? Is there a specific deal breaker we should keep in mind?

    Features: What features would you love to see? They can be as silly or traditional (like a phone charger) as you would like!

    Insurance: Would you like the option to buy this through insurance one day or would you rather never deal with insurance to get a device like this?

    Any advice, even if it has nothing to do with the questions above, would be truly appreciated. We want to make sure that we do this right and actually benefits the wheelchair community.

    Thank you again for including me in the forum. I am excited to learn more about the community
    Last edited by ProPulse; 04-01-2019 at 12:22 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Oddity's Avatar
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    I assume you've done adequate market research on the several products already on the market that accomplish this same goal. (SmartDrive, Dragonfly, Zx-1, Bicycle Motorworks EWA, Firefly, etc.)

    My advice would be to make one better. How far do they go? Go farther. How much do they weigh? Weigh less. How much do they cost? Cost less. How hard are they for one (disabled) person to attach by themselves? Be easier. Etc, etc, etc.

    My personal deal-breaker is something too bulky and "medical" looking. Needs to be sleek and understated for me to be interested.
    "I have great faith in fools; self-confidence my friends call it." - Edgar Allen Poe

    "If you only know your side of an issue, you know nothing." -John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

    "Even what those with the greatest reputation for knowing it all claim to understand and defend are but opinions..." -Heraclitus, Fragments

  3. #3
    @oddity Thank you for all of the feedback!! I'll keep all of these things in mind. We've done endless market research and even though all of those products you mentioned have some valuable attributes, none of them do it all. The things that we are not willing to sacrifice are price, convenience, ease of use, time to purchase, and wheelchair compatibility. Also, thank you for mentioning the 'sleek' factor, I was not sure how much that was valued. I'll make sure we focus on that when making the outside shell of the device.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Oddity's Avatar
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    I have a comment about pricing.

    Most recent stat I'm aware of said that only ~20% of folks with SCI work. Meaning, they exist on public (or private) disability benefits (I.e. Social Security, LTD, Workers Comp), and even a few thousand dollars can easily be out of reach for the vast majority of your potential market. Leading me to my point:

    Most DME for our population is paid for by Medicare or Medicaid. Relatively few of us have private insurance. Even fewer can pay out of pocket, even at a "good" price. Medicare is currently registering products like yours (most similar to the ZX-1) under the HCPCS code "K0108: Wheelchair Accessory, not otherwise specified". Push-rim activated power devices are under a different code, but yours is most like the ZX-1 (under the chair with a joy stick), so I assume you'd have the same coding.

    This code is priced on a case by case basis, aka "carrier priced", at the carrier's discretion. ("Carrier" is basically the Medicare regional contractor). The ZX-1 is priced ~$10,000 retail, ~$7,000 MAP. DMEs hard-sell products with the best margins. It's a tough business. You're competitive advantage on price might not matter as much as you hope, at the end of the day, if, in fact, other similar products registered under the same code have better margins. Price needs to provide profitability for the entire manufacturing/supply/distribution chain, AND be profitable using Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement amounts, if you expect to have DMEs signing up to sell your product.

    Food for thought.
    "I have great faith in fools; self-confidence my friends call it." - Edgar Allen Poe

    "If you only know your side of an issue, you know nothing." -John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

    "Even what those with the greatest reputation for knowing it all claim to understand and defend are but opinions..." -Heraclitus, Fragments

  5. #5
    @OddityVERY helpful information on pricing, especially the HCPCS code. I agree, K0108 is much closer to our product. It's been made very obvious to me that Medicare is the holy grail of the industry. We will have to set ourselves up in a way where, by the time we approach medicare, COGS are so low that margins are sufficient to feed all mouths in the distribution chain. That's going to be the only way that we can keep B2C prices at a reasonable amount at the same time.

  6. #6
    You might want to stop using a term that many people who are wheelchair users hate: "wheelchair bound". Wheelchair mobile or wheelchair user are much more PC terms.

    The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.

  7. #7
    @SCI-Nurse Absolutely, I immediately updated the original post. I understand that I have a lot to learn about the community and apologize if I offended anyone. I really appreciate you letting me know!

  8. #8
    Been riding a hand cycle for 43 years. Never used an attachable before because they were mostly inefficient or downright dangerous. Last year I bought the Stryker and am very impressed by how efficient and well built it is. Presently I am switching between the Stryker and my Freedom Ryder that has a RoadRace Powerpod attached to the rear. Stryker also makes a non crank powered front wheel attachment but it's slow.

    For myself, anything that requires a bracket that's left on my chair is a no go. Also cheap running gear and brakes are also something that would disqualify any hand cycle I was considering. I would think that would raise the selling price quite a bit but would be worth it because if it's cheaply made and inefficient, it won't be used.

    Are you planning on it just being a powered front wheel attachment or an attachable front wheeled handcycle? The big downfall for me on the Stryker is using the power throttle and no cranking is how slow it is. Where as my recumbent with the Road Race on it can do 30mph with a lithium battery and no cranking if I just want to cruise. I don't do 30mph but would be nice if the Stryker could at least get up to 10 on it's own power. They blame the slowness on the throttle is supposed to be for taking off. At 100% battery use, it should be programmed to go twice as fast as the 50% output. My shoulders are pretty shot so it's nice to take a break and still be going at a good clip.

    Something that's critical for an efficient bike is the wheel used has to strike the ground at 90o or you'll get a wobble as the speed increases. The early Jansen h/c/ were notorious for flipping because the wheel was not hitting the ground at 90o. This happened even while going straight.

  9. #9
    @Patrick Madsen I think there may be some confusion with what the device actually is. It is an electric wheel that would be attached to the center axle of the wheelchair that is controlled by a joystick. It would give all the functions of the powered wheelchairs so it would be geared for everyday use. The goal is to pretty much make it so that ANYONE who wants a powered wheelchair can have one by attaching this to their manual chair.

    Speed would be adjustable but there would definitely be a limit for safety (7mph is what we were shooting for)

    You made a great point with the programming though! Changing the max speed based on the available battery life.

  10. #10
    Really sorry about posting so many repeat replies everyone... I am new to this whole forum thing and kept re-writing my replies after getting the approval error (hoping that they would go through). Won't do that again lol
    Last edited by ProPulse; 04-02-2019 at 11:26 AM. Reason: Mistake

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