Expandable Wheelchair

Portland State University, 2004 - $10,000

Today's standard, non-custom-built wheelchairs lack the ability to adapt to the user, leading to discomfort and health problems when used in long-term care situations in nursing homes, hospitals, and assisted living facilities. With no ability to adjust, larger residents are crammed into smaller chairs, and, with no headrest on the chair back, people without muscle strength in their neck are left with their heads falling to one side. Bigger wheelchairs with headrests exist, but cost 300% more than standard wheelchairs--a prohibitive cost for most facilities. In response to this problem, this E-Team developed a wheelchair that can expand from the usual 18" wide and 16" deep seating surface to 22" wide and 18" deep, and comes with an adjustable headrest. The goal of the team was to develop a cost-efficient, adjustable manual wheelchair that addresses the common problems of people who use standard, generic wheelchairs in long-term situations.

The E-Team consisted of seven mechanical engineering majors, one with business administration experience and one with patent experience. Advisors included a professor of mechanical engineering and design as well as three members of Keen Mobility, a former NCIIA E-Team that has gone on to form a successful company based on innovative assistive technology.