December 8, 2016 | 10:15 am | By Pants Up Easy
Here at Pants Up Easy, we try to keep our finger on the pulse of the trends and innovations in products to help people with paralysis. Largely due to recent advances in technology, there are a wealth of products currently available that can improve mobility, health, and general quality of life for wheelchair users. These are some of our favorites amongst the current crop of wheelchair innovations.
A creation of French designer, Alexandre Pain, the Tandem was designed to change some of the stigma associated with the obviously identifiable wheelchair. Pain spent a fair amount of time “walking in the shoes”, so to speak, of wheelchair users. That is to say, he traveled in a wheelchair himself. His findings probably won’t surprise most wheelchair users, though others may not be expecting his conclusion. He was able to manage navigating around, even in places that weren’t fully accessible, but was most trouble by the way that members of the public looked at him in the chair. He responded by developing a powered wheelchair that looks like a stylish scooter. It has a fun a sporty look, and is somewhat unique in that it accommodates the primary driver (someone with a disability) while leaving room for another passenger behind.
In addition to the myriad of safety concerns for wheelchair users, many of the same issues exist as for pedestrians and cyclists, including visibility at night. It may be difficult to see while maneuvering around dark streets and parking lots. More importantly, it’s important for motorists to be able to see the person in the wheelchair in order to avoid accidents. Illuminated wheelchairs with LED lights powered by the turning of the wheels address both of these concerns, increasing visibility for all parties.
Are you ready for something a bit science-fictiony? These wheelchairs use brain activity and artificial intelligence to give people in wheelchairs more independence. There are a number of such products in development, including this one by the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. It uses Electroencephalography (EEG) to use signals from nerves, muscles, and the brain, to pilot the chair. Thinking of turning left will cause the wheelchair to turn left. Software helps the system interpret these commands. Webcams assist in detecting and avoiding obstacles.
The Carrier Wheelchair
This project, by researchers at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, is designed to help the user achieve more tasks. It will raise the user to a standing position by means of a power lift, in order to reach high objects, and also contains a “trap door” to allow access to use the toilet, an activity which often poses great challenges.
Pants Up Easy
We can’t talk about the subject of using the toilet without mentioning our own Pants Up Easy products. While not exclusively for the wheelchair (there are freestanding and wall models in addition to the wheelchair unit), Pants Up Easy was designed to simplify the ordeal of pulling up one’s pants after using the toilet when one is paralyzed.