As much value as wheelchairs bring to wheelchair users, they have quite a few limitations as well, such as keeping individuals in one up-right position. In an attempt to address this challenge, a team has created AbleChair on Kickstarter, which allows wheelchair users to switch up their positions via a wireless phone app.
The AbleChair promotes mobility, therapy, position control, and transfers, and contains a lift adjustment mechanism that hoists people in the air to adjust their position. By using a variety of brushless motors, and Arduino controllers and sensors, the chair can remain at ground level, or raise or drop the seat accordingly so users can stretch their bodies.
The chair also has a tilt function, which enables users to adjust the angle of the seat so they can recline slightly or be in a full, upright position. Both the tilt and lifting mechanisms are controlled via the smartphone app, and users can preprogram their favorite positions.
The entire reason the AbleChair was created was to provide greater health benefits to those who use a wheelchair and allow for more independence. For instance, if someone in a wheelchair cannot reach a cupboard to grab a cup, they could now raise themselves up independently and reach the cup using their app. Pertaining to health, the chair helps avoid ulcers, stretches muscles, improves bone density by shifting positions, increases blood circulation, and improves posture.
The chair also has another ability where it can act as a rehabilitation tool for gait therapy. The AbleChair can become an effective gait system so individuals can practice walking at home, rather than going into a clinic to practice. With the armrests and optional harness, the seat offers controlled weight bearing. It also can lie completely flat, so individuals can take a break when needed. A few gait training benefits include improved lung function, lower risk of pressure sores, improved visual awareness, better bowel and bladder function, and more.
Currently, the AbleChair can travel for 15 to 20 miles and can reach speeds of 4 mph—don’t expect to be zooming at tops speeds with this thin. The chair is starting at $7,995, and the company hopes to start shipping in October of this year.