Our break is over! Time to get back to work – Brittany H.

I’m sure everyone appreciated the Thanksgiving break and the amazing weather, but now we have to go back to solving the questions that need to be answered. Our goal currently is to finalize the measurements for the wheelchair and to find out how we’ll go by doing this. While we do have a base we can work with, this changes the situation of our circumstances. With new opportunities there are different limits and by that I mean we’re making a new plan to as how we’re going to make this sketch a reality! Finding out what we need to throw out and need to keep in the design is crucial at this point. Adapting is no problem with our team though, we’ve already come up with what we need to change.

A list that we’ve already created of what needs to be fixed:

  • Both brakes
  • Front left wheel is broken -replace
  • Need new armrests
  • Child-proof aluminum sheets
  • Add cushion to the seat and back-rest
  • Replace cloth of seat
  • Polish everything
  • Easier to fold bottom support
  • Adjustable back-rest tilt
  • Width of seat and back-rest
  • Add foot guard and make adjustable armrest length
  • Change the handles
  • How to change the welding?
  • Remove excess metal
  • Lower seat height
  • Back-rest needs to lengthened for design
  • Make the armrest adjustable in height (raise up or down & length)

This is quite a challenge as the situation of being in need of a welder comes up. We’ve tried calling a few places but as students on a budget we simply can’t afford to hire someone for ~$50 an hour as wheelchairs have been estimated to take a long time to do. The estimated total was $1,000+ which is reasonable as these people are professionals, but it’s the same price as what you’d find in stores. The school luckily provided us this worn down wheelchair to work with that the nurse joyfully encouraged us to do with it as we want. While there is an opportunity we’d have to go to Houston to work with the relative. If anyone knows someone who’s a welder and is willing to donate their service to our cause please let us know!


With the engineering students working on creating a 3-D model, we biomedical students are working on writing and explaining the reason why this design is important by following the prompt, “Show a future investor that you have scientific evidence that your device is needed and useful.” Adding as many components as possible for the comfort and safety of the user while working with the limits we have we’re learning to manage this quite well. A small example of what we’ve written so far:

Curved back-rest:

Having the back-rest curved helps provide spinal support, because the child is developing, and still growing they must have the support they need so that their spines do not become malformed due to consistent sitting. Posture is important but children do not often think of it or are aware of how the hold themselves up, having a curved back helps them fix their position which will allow for healthy growth and development that any child would get the opportunity to have.

The research we’ve done has led us to realize the many accidents that could occur with wheelchairs. We’re using this as reference as these are components we need to keep in mind. Our new plan will develop as we work and encounter new problems.

From Department of Veterans Affairs
From Department of Veterans Affairs

Citation: Gaal, R., Rebholtz, N., Hotchkiss, R., & Pfaelzer, P. (1997). Wheelchair rider injuries: Causes and consequences for wheelchair design and selection. Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, 34(1), 58-71. Retrieved November 1, 2014, from http://www.rehab.research.va.gov/jour/97/34/1/pdf/gaal.pdf

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