Thursday, June 18, 2009

Irish inventor tries to revolutionize wheelchair design

From the Galway News in Ireland:

A revolutionary wheelchair and cool corrective kids’ shoes are among the products to be showcased by two Galway businesses at this weekend’s access and mobility exhibition.

Michael Burke (pictured), the man who invented the Stira folding attic stairs, has turned his attention at his Dunmore factory to wheelchairs, the basic design of which has not changed since it was manufactured a century ago.

After seeing a propulsion system used on scooters in the UK, it occurred to him that this system could be used to real effect on wheelchairs, so he bought the patent and exclusive manufacturing and distribution rights.

The traditional wheelchair is propelled by pushing on the wheelrims but this unnatural action forces the user to stoop over creating back pain as well as repetitive stress disorders in the hands and wrists. It also results in the user getting filthy hands and sleeves and friction burns if trying to brake suddenly.

The Nordigo system involves pulling a level on either side of the wheelchair inside the wheels in a rowing style movement. The user expends less energy to go faster and has better upper body movement because they are pulling rather than pushing in an upright position.