— Good Thinking
Wheelchair accessory puts caregives alongside
Industrial designer Tammy Kalinsky has come up with a simple yet ingenious accessory for the wheelchair which allows a friend, relative or caregiver to push the chair while walking beside rather than behind it.
Called Side by Side, the device is designed to enable eye contact to encourage conversation.
Wired reports that a fundamental hurdle to overcome was modifying the design so as to avoid the wheelchair simply turning on the spot when pushed. Kalinsky's solution was to place the handlebar to the front of the wheelchair, and have it angled slightly inwards
Kalinsky says she has taken inspiration from the bicycle, incorporating both a horn and a flashlight into the design to foster interactivity and communication. The device can also be folded to fit into the rear pocket of the chair.
According to Wired, Kalinsky is now seeking funding to bring her patent-pending design to market.
Sources: Tammy Kalinsky, Wired
About the Author
James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life.
All articles by James Holloway
would have like to have seen it make a right-hand turn.
or make it NOT florescent blue.
it will require more work from the caregiver but it might be well worth the extra effort. but it needs a quick fold for fitting it through doors and gates.
I'd echo what Slowburn said. This wheelchair arrangement would not be at all practical on narrow and crowded British pavements without a quick folding arrangement, and even then, having to constantly fold it and unfold it for obstacles such as lamp posts, road signs, and other pedestrians, would make maintaining a flow of conversation very difficult. Of course, it would be absolutely fine on flat, wide surfaces, such as those shown in the video.
More seriously though, is that when operated on a side slope or uneven ground, the device would effectively act as a lever, applying massive amounts of torque to one side of the wheelchair frame, at a point which is simply not designed to take high torque loading. which would risk damaging the chair, or causing the operator to lose control. As an ex-careworker, I have pushed manual wheelchairs for many miles over the years, and know how easily damaged they are. Due to their low speed, they don't have much kinetic energy, and tend to stop dead on flat or uphill surfaces when obstructed, especially when you can't see what is causing the obstruction if on the opposite side to the carer. On downhill sections, there is considerable inertia to overcome, which could mean excessive force applied to the lever.
Good concept, but needs work, and ideally, a specially designed chair that is reinforced to take this modification.
I am a wheelchair user. I think this would be a great accessory to be used at the appropriate time and place. When speedy transport is primary, it certainly would not work. In addition, the conditions mentioned by the other commenters would be hazardous. But during a leisure stroll on a flat surface, it would be nice.
I see back problems.
Over 160,000 people receive our email newsletter
See the stories that matter in your inbox every morning