Date of Award

6-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Publisher

Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2018.

Departments

Bioengineering; Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Prashanth Asuri

Second Advisor

Christopher Kitts

Abstract

Conditions as simple as a leg fracture or more severe impairments such as paralysis and stroke may confine a person to a wheelchair. Wheelchairs help people with limited mobility transport themselves to different locations, but do not help the person leave the wheelchair. Users would need to do this to enter a car, use the restroom, take a shower, and sit at a table comfortably with family. The following design is a wheelchair attachment that serves to provide the user with increased mobility and independence. Wheelchair users struggle to get into and out of their chairs due to the unassisted distance from the sitting to standing position and the obstruction of the chair body. Caregivers who help to lift the user risk hurting themselves. The purpose of this wheelchair modification is to help the user stand, access other supporting platforms, provide them with independence, and protect caregivers from injury. An analysis of current solutions and wheelchair user input helped to identify a gap in the field and reveal a need for a low cost, high functionality wheelchair attachment. This design incorporates a motorized seat lifting mechanism to assist in straightening the user’s legs to a standing position through user controls. The seat also tilts forward to support them from behind and allow them to gently place their feet on the ground. A sliding mechanism slides the seat forward away from the body of the wheelchair to reach beds, other chairs, or a commode, for example. The seat rotates in order to orient the person in the proper position for transfer to other surfaces. The armrests are detachable to allow the user to move freely between surfaces. All modalities, including the lifting, tilting, sliding, rotating, and armrest mechanisms are reversible and help to get the person back into their wheelchair. Feedback from potential users and caregivers on a video demonstrating the functions was very positive. All respondents said they were very likely to use each functionality independently and the device as whole with the exception of the tilting function which users felt would be unsafe. Overall, every respondent said this device would save caretakers from injury and would make the wheelchair user more independent.

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