ErgoChair Smart Manual Wheelchair

Award Information
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Branch: N/A
Contract: 1R44HD054401-01
Agency Tracking Number: HD054401
Amount: $183,751.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2006
Solicitation Year: 2006
Solicitation Topic Code: N/A
Solicitation Number: PHS2006-2
Small Business Information
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 (615) 837-6947
Business Contact
Phone: (615) 837-6947
Research Institution
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The PVA clinical practice guidelines for preserving upper limb function following spinal cord injury recommends that wheelchair users minimize the force required to complete upper limb tasks, avoid positioning the hand above the shoulder and avoid extreme positions of shoulder internal rotation and abduction. There are several aspects of wheelchair use that lead to these conditions. Because wheelchair users are seated, many of the objects they grab or work with are above the level of their shoulder, such as washing dishes or getting items off the grocery store shelf. Some powered wheelchairs have an electric seat elevator that can be used to raise the wheelchair user up. However, there are no manual wheelchairs that offer a seat-elevating feature. Transfers to and from the wheelchair commonly lead to an internally- rotated and abducted shoulder that is supporting a large percentage of the user's body weight. Transfer boards can be used to dramatically reduce physical demand during transfers. However, transfer boards are not very portable, so they are not typically carried on the wheelchair. As a result, transfer boards are not always available when the user needs one. The ErgoChair Smart Manual Wheelchair is a solution to the problem of poor shoulder ergonomics during lifting tasks and transfers. The ErgoChair allows the seat height of a manual wheelchair to be set by the user much like setting the height of an office chair. In addition, there is a lightweight transfer board stowed under the seat. Users can create preset seat heights, allowing them to quickly set the seat to exactly where they want it. This project will involve: 1) developing a proof-of concept prototype and evaluating its effectiveness, 2) refining the design based on focus group feedback and engineering exploration and 3) quantifying the ergonomic benefits of the ErgoChair through a repeated measures biomechanical study. As a result of this project, wheelchair users will be able to dramatically reduce physical demand on their upper limbs during everyday tasks. ErgoChair Smart Manual Wheelchair Relevance to Public Health Manual wheelchair users are at considerable risk of developing upper limb overuse injuries. One preventative measure is to reduce physical demand during wheelchair use. This project will develop innovative technology that will dramatically improve the ergonomics of wheelchair transfers and lifting tasks.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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