Lever-Powered Wheelchair


Solid model of Lever-Powered wheelchair (left) and physical prototype (right).

I worked in a group of four students to create a unique lever-powered wheelchair. Traditional wheelchairs cause overuse injuries in the shoulder joints of many users, and this wheelchair was designed to use different upper body muscles, and thus reduce injuries. This project was part of the class 2.75 - Precision Machine Design.

Abstract of final paper:

Many users of traditional wheelchairs develop overuse injuries of the shoulder joint due to repetitive identical loading.  Therefore, we propose a wheelchair design that will solve the ergonomic challenges presented, while maintaining the maneuverability of traditional push-rim wheelchairs.   By activating the largest muscle groups in the upper body (i.e. pectorals and laterals) strain on the shoulder joint is reduced.  The proposed design is a morphing hybrid chair; the user can travel forward over long distances with a push/pull lever-drive system, and switch to a push-rim design when indoors or needing more fine maneuverability.  The most critical modules of the design were prototyped and tested.  A full design was also explored and a feature set and 3D CAD geometry are proposed.


Side view of lever-powered wheelchair


Retro-direct drive: forward motion of the wheelchair is acheived both by pushing the lever forward and by pulling the lever backwards.


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