RNOH backs "walking wheelchair"
By Alex Melvin

A PIONEERING wheelchair which could revolutionise the lives of thousands of spinal injury sufferers is being tested and assessed by boffins at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH), in Stanmore.

The "walking wheelchair", called an iBOT, is the first of its kind to allow users to climb stairs and kerbs, raise themselves up to eye level and navigate uneven terrain.

Keith Pritchard, 48, of Notting Hill, was one of the first people in the country to use the four-wheel machine after undergoing assessment at the ASPIRE Centre for Disability Sciences (ACDS), based at the RNOH in Wood Lane.

ACDS is working with Independence Technology, the chair's manufacturers, to assess and train users and analyise whether the iBOT makes a difference to their quality of life.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) sufferer Keith, who got his iBOT in January, is in no doubt about the wheelchair's value. He said: "I can now go shopping without getting someone to help me reach the top shelf.

"When I socialise with friends, I can raise myself to their eye level and chat face to face. It also means I can get to the bar and buy a round of drinks. I feel totally liberated."