Development of a Single Motor Propelled Wheelchair (SIMPL-WC)
Small Business Information
THREE RIVERS HOLDINGS, LLC, 1826 W BROADWAY RD, STE 43, MESA, AZ, 85202
AbstractDESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Due to the aging baby-boom generation and improvements in healthcare, the average age of the US population is increasing and is projected to continue to increase for decades (www.census.gov). The demand for assistive t echnologies such as electric powered wheelchairs (EPWs) and scooters have kept close pace with the increasing elderly population, as demonstrated by the sharp increases in Medicare spending on these devices (Scooter and EPWs increased by an average of 25% between years 2002 and 2003). The devices available fall into two general categories: highly maneuverable EPWs and the lower-cost, less maneuverable, and less stable Scooters (officially classified as power operated vehicles (PoVs)). PoVs provide functiona l mobility in well-built open spaces-such as shopping malls, paved roads and sidewalks, etc., but provide poor mobility in most home environments. And while EPWs can provide functional mobility in all locations, insurance companies typically reimburse for the high cost of these devices only if an individual cannot safely ambulate in their home. Meanwhile, one of the efforts to curb increasing healthcare costs has been to make EPW eligibility criteria more stringent, which has restricted many individuals fro m receiving them. The goal of this SBIR is to develop a single motor propelled wheelchair (SIMPL-WC) which meets the performance (maneuverability, stability, and durability) of EPWs, but is priced similar to PoVs. This device developed under this grant wil l be based on a proof-of-concept design which was targeted for developing countries and was tested in preliminary focus groups. Further development and testing needs to be performed to evaluate the feasibility of the SIMPL-WC according to performance and d urability requirements in the US, and according to the needs and expectations of US consumers. Novel characteristics of the device which afford increased maneuverability at a low cost include: (1) independent suspension, which is linked to the drive wheel and proactively increases traction in rough terrain, (2) a single hub-style drive wheel which is lower cost and less complicated compared to both EPWs and PoVs drive components, (3) a manual steering system which allows a significantly lower cost controlle r to be used, (4) a short wheelbase and the ability for the device to turn around in its own footprint (highly maneuverable, like an EPW), and (5) an adjustable EPW seat, which can accommodate special seating systems (like an EPW). A prototype of the SIMPL -WC will be developed with minor upgrades from the previously prototype designed. The performance of the device will then be evaluated based on American National Standards Institute/Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North Ameri ca (ANSI/RESNA) wheelchair standards. Focus groups will be held to record feedback from potential users and clinicians to determine whether the SIMPL-WC provides functional mobility during activities of daily living (ADLs) which is comparable to that of an EPWs and exceeds that of a PoV; these focus groups will also address the marketability of the device among the user population. Finally, a cost analysis will be performed to determine the approximate cost of the SIMPL-WC relative to PoVs and EPWs. These d ata will be used to guide the design and evaluation for the Phase 2 research project. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: Healthcare costs and demands for assistive mobility devices such as electric powered wheelchairs (EPWs) and power operated vehicles (POV, or sco oters') are keeping in pace with our increasing population of older Americans. What are critically needed are new technologies which are tailored to the mobility and lifestyle needs of these older individuals, but are low-cost, to helping to curb rising he althcare costs. The purpose of this research is to develop a single motor propelled wheelchair (SIMPL-WC) which performs similarly to an EPW, but is priced
* information listed above is at the time of submission.