Revolutionizing mobility for wheelchair users
Hope or hoax?
In our Community we have previously discussed novel wheelchair designs, such as the self-driving or the standing wheelchair – and if you have a look around, Google will find you several more. Indeed, there are plenty of innovative, creative, sometimes even quite fashionable wheelchair solutions out there, all putting forward one big promise: to revolutionize mobility for wheelchair users.
Recently, the Reagiro manual wheelchair caught my attention. Developed by Reto Togni, a Swiss designer and alumnus of the Royal College of Art (London), the Reagiro's steering system allows one-handed propulsion with its backrest acting as a steering wheel. This means one hand remains free, to hold a cup of coffee, for example. Looking at the documentation of the design process and the videos of people using the wheelchair I was deeply impressed.
Yet of course as a social scientist with no medical or practical wheelchair usage experience, I cannot judge whether or not this design makes sense from a medical or from a practical perspective. So is this the groundbreaking innovation I consider it to be? Or is it just another fancy yet unsustainable or impractical idea? A while ago, this topic was also discussed on the Forum. Johannes discovered a quite critical user comment on an article published in the Luzerner Zeitung about a stair climbing electric wheelchair. In his comment the reader questioned the practicability of the wheelchair for daily use, criticizing it as the typical example of useless device developed by an over-motivated able-bodied person.
Ultimately, as the designer himself states on his website, clinical trials are needed to determine whether or not the Reagiro can deliver on its promise. But it made me wonder when you stumble upon news like this, how do you deal with it? Do you try to find out more or bring it up with a healthcare professional? Or is this something that doesn’t interest you?
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this.
Wishing you all a wonderful day, Julia