Category: Positioning Chair

Motorized Wheelchair Seat Shifting System

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-- PROTOTYPE --------- PURPOSE: To create a prototype of a wheelchair seat that aids wheelchair users to change his or her seated position periodically. Changing position when seated for a long period of time is especially important for wheelchair users who spend almost every making moment seated. Failure to do so can result in deformities, bedsores, or considerable pain. The Swiss research group, Empa, is working with an ergonomics company to develop a new type of wheelchair seat that periodically causes users to change position. The prototype seat has an articulated backrest, made up of ribs and joints that can be moved by a motorized system to match the user's body contours. The backrest as a whole can also be tilted up to 22 degrees forward and 40 degrees back, while the seat bottom can be horizontally rotated 30 degrees in both directions. A pressure mat on the seat detects where the user's highest points of pressure are located in any one position. Using a control console, a therapist can then program the movements of the ribs in the backrest and the angles of the backrest and bottom, to cause the user to change position throughout the day. If done correctly, this results in the user shifting to provide relief to the pressure points. Should one of the new positions prove uncomfortable, the user can readjust the seat for themselves. The adjustment mechanism's motor runs off of the same battery used to power the wheelchair so no additional power source is required. A wheelchair equipped with the new seat has been tested by people of various weights by Empa, and on a trip in a taxi designed for the persons with disabilities. Further tests are planned to determine how much the shifting of pressure points actually helps users, and whether or not full-time users will accept the seat. AUTHOR: Ben Coxworth. TITLE: New wheelchair seat gets users to regularly change their position. WEBSITE: Gizmag. REF:


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Motorized Wheelchair Seat Shifting System