The Incredible Story of Lightweight Wheelchairs

A helping hand

Throughout history, the greatest engineers, scientists and forward thinkers amongst us have always focused their energies on helping those who may be less able to do so themselves. It is possible that this desire to help others is the most human and endearing quality of all mankind. A great example of this is the invention of a wheelchair. It is a remarkable story of design refinement, which is far from over. Each generation of pioneers and engineers has upgraded and advanced the wheelchair, from the days of old, to the lightweight wheelchairs of today, it truly is a testimony to one of humanity’s most positive qualities, the need to care.

Wheelchairs throughout the ages

Wheelchairs which resemble those which are recognized today, first came about in 1783, when English inventor James Heath first created his ‘Bath chair’. Heath’s design was by no means the first wheelchair ever designed, it was, however, the first to feature the design of wheelchairs as we know them today. This was revolutionary in steering design towards the current form of wheelchairs today. Over the next century, many inventors and pioneers furthered the design in numerous ways. The most crucial step in the design however, did not come to pass until tubular steel came about, which led to the invention of the first collapsible, cross-frame chair. Being constructed from tubular steel, the weight was greatly reduced, and the collapsible nature of the design maximized usefulness and storage.

How is this possible?

Since Everest’s collapsible cross-frame design, there has been an increased focus on attempting to reduce the overall weight of the chairs. This, in turn, after years of design innovation and refinement eventually led to the lightweight wheelchairs of today. Modern models, such as the Ergo Lite Ultralight Wheelchair Transit, truly are remarkable accomplishments of modern design innovation. Weighing merely 8.5KG, it is able to withstand in excess of 100KG. Additionally to this impressive weight distribution ratio, models such as the Ergo Lite also feature upholstery which has been designed to maximize comfort, as well as armrests and foldable footrests – whilst simultaneously being collapsible, to maximize usability and afford its users the maximum amount of freedom available. Designs such as these could never have been possible were it not for the genius of pioneers such as Heath and Everest and others like them, who never stopped refining and furthering the work of their predecessors.

Change of perspective

This history of the wheelchair is not only fascinating, but it provides a deeper appreciation for wheelchairs that are used on a daily basis. These incredible machines have allowed us to provide help to those who need it in a simple and effective manner. Learning about how the wheelchair came to be can put things into perspective, knowing that every time we use or facilitate the use of a wheelchair, we are using something that has contributed to countless others’ well-being.