One of the greatest gifts we have in life is our independence.
AbleChair is a revolutionary way to give people with disabilities the chance to regain such an important part of their lives.
“Exercise is Optional, Movement is Essential.”
“The human body is designed to be upright. Our bones, muscles, organs, and nervous system function optimally when upright, either walking or standing.”
People with physical disabilities often have fewer opportunities to be physically active. Being able to gait train or simply stand from a wheelchair is a dream come true for many. The biggest problem being in a regular wheelchair is that people are limited to being in the exact same position and the exact same height all the time.
AbleChair is a revolutionary power wheelchair. The AbleChair is the most versatile wheelchair in the world, combining the benefits of mobility, therapy, position control, and transfers. It allows users to be put in any number of positions through a wireless phone app for added convenience and enables users to save and recall their favorite positions with the touch of a button. The therapeutic benefits of the AbleChair are priceless.
If you or your loved one is disabled, the AbleChair is the ultimate gift that could ever be received - it is the gift of independence that keeps on giving. Nothing has more value than our independence, and some people are robbed of their independence due to physical issues.
Caregivers/loved ones of the AbleChair users can relax and not worry because of increased safety and independence for the users and reduced burden on the caregivers/family members. This level of convenience and efficiency gives people a chance to recover.
AbleChair empowers wheelchair users with increased independence and improved health. We want to make the AbleChair the best experience possible and we want to ensure the highest levels of comfort and independence.
The AbleChair is an all-in-one wheelchair with a fraction of the cost of any sophisticated/specialty wheelchair. Thanks to many years of hard work that we managed to come up with the perfect balance of cost and value.
The AbleChair has the power to change millions of lives in the wheelchair community with radical results that will make each person suffering from disabilities feel much better.
We are offering exceptional discounts on a very limited number of AbleChair units. An innovative option with the lowest price and an unmatched functionality not found in other specialty wheelchairs. We know the Kickstarter community is going to see the extreme value that comes from backing this project. This is also going to allow us to further promote AbleChair in the wheelchair community.
Every year millions of people are forced to use wheelchairs – some for a short period of time, and others for a lifetime. The reasons include strokes, spinal cord injuries, head injuries, multiple sclerosis, weakness in bones and joints, aging, arthritis, hip and knee replacements, etc. There are many other reasons that could force a person to use a wheelchair, but the end result is the same, people need to be able to feel comfortable, but most importantly, they need to maintain their independence.
It’s essential for the wheelchair to evolve into a better solution for those who wish to have some form of independence. AbleChair is the next step in that evolution. One that is going to give people in wheelchairs a life-changing opportunity.
Existing wheelchairs have failed to adequately address the needs of the users i.e. provide necessary therapeutic functions, resulting in increased dependence, gradual deterioration of health or excessive cost burden on an ongoing basis. These wheelchairs also frequently put caregivers, family members or therapists in helpless situations.
Important statistics about wheelchair users:
- Spends an average of 10-14 hours in the wheelchair
- Transferred out of the wheelchair 6-12 times
- Performs pressure reliefs by off-loading of the entire buttocks 5-10 times
- Performs weight shifts from one side of the buttocks 30-40 times per day
13.2 million non-institutionalized adults receive an average of 31.4 hours of personal assistance in ADLs and IADLs per week, which costs about $314/week, or $16,328/year
Insufficient or delayed therapy may cause permanent damage to body functions. In some cases, it may not even be practical to receive much-needed therapy as often as the user should.
The AbleChair promotes early therapy at the convenience of home for an accelerated, positive outcome. In most cases, users can independently gait-train with controlled weight bearing almost anywhere and anytime they want, which will lead to a faster recovery. Savings on services such as PT, OT and ADL, alone can easily pay for the AbleChair in a short period of time.
This is a completely new level of independence that is revolutionizing the way we look at wheelchairs and also the way people perceive those with disabilities. Feeling capable is just as important as being independent. The AbleChair allows people to handle daily tasks that would be impossible with a regular wheelchair.
The AbleChair has full range independent adjustment of tilt angle and seat angle, providing flexible and practically limitless positions to perfectly suit wheelchair users. Benefits include:
- pressure relief maintaining range of motion
- helping to manage spasticity
- and increasing sitting tolerance
- Reduce transfers as the users can get into comfortable positions
- improve bone density
- Provide means for weight shifts
- stretch muscles
- increased blood circulation
- improved lung function
- Eliminate poor postures resulting from fatigue
Giving people with disabilities a chance to go higher or lower has never been so easy!
Its extended lift adjustment allows standard elevated sitting and beyond as well as lowered sitting all the way down to the floor. The benefits include:
- Elevated sitting provides eye-level conversation with peers promoting better posture and psychological benefits
- Better access and reach to higher level objects (sinks, countertops, top shelves)
- "For those who would love to get on the ground on a regular basis, the AbleChair is the wheelchair for you. This wheelchair has the ability to lower the seat completely to the ground, so all you have to do is transfer out of the chair and then get right back into the seat. This feature is where this wheelchair shines, as there are no other wheelchairs on the market that can do this. Just think of all the activities you can do with this. From taking care of a baby and getting on the floor next to them to cleaning your house or doing some yoga, this ability can change the life of someone with spinal cord injury that has trouble getting to the ground."[spinalcord.com]
Together with full range tilt and seat adjustments, the AbleChair has incredible height adjustment feature, which allows the users to stand safely and comfortably. The benefits of standing include:
- Decrease tightness and muscle spasms caused by core and lower extremity movement
- Increase bone density due to increased load on the bones
- Heal pressure ulcers by eliminating or reducing lateral pressure on the body
- Improve bowel function due to standing up exercises
- Reduce muscle spasticity caused by prolonged sitting
- Increase circulation by reducing stagnation due to sitting
- Improve respiration by increasing space for diaphragm expansion
- Become independent by having greater reach
- Reduce fatigue by reducing muscle atrophy
- Improve overall well-being
A unique and outstanding opportunity for optimal gait therapy results!
The AbleChair is the only wheelchair on the market that offers gait therapy with controlled weight bearing. Within seconds, the AbleChair can become an effective gait system, so you can practice walking at home and eliminate the need for a transfer or a trip to a clinic. It also goes back to the lying position, so you can truly take a break when you are exhausted. You can continue these gait training cycles as often as you wish for faster recovery.
The power mobility of the AbleChair will assist you in gently pushing you along safely, and of course, you can control the pace as needed.
It is quite difficult to predict how far someone will go with gait training. But even for those who will never achieve independent functional ambulation, there are still many opportunities to make significant gains.
Static loading of the bones is less effective in bone development than dynamic loading. Dynamic weight bearing is a loading and unloading of the skeleton that typically occurs during weight shifting in gait or stand. It is important for weight bearing activities to be routine and regular, to maintain and continue bone growth and development.
Gait training benefits include:
- Promotes joint and bone development
- Prevents contractures and increases motion
- Improves lung function
- Better bowel and bladder function
- Better circulation
- Decreased constipation
- Decreased spasticity
- Lower risk of pressure sores
- Improved cognition growth with environmental exploration
- Improved visual awareness
- Promotes a more active lifestyle
A solid structure that gives people the power to move with confidence!
The AbleChair is also a full-function power wheelchair with speed limit settings, electromagnetic breaking and drive engagement levers.
We are offering free frame color options ($199 value) for free during this campaign. These are tentative colors and will be finalized after knowing preferences from the backers. Orange red color is what is used for the units shown in the video/pictures. Note that the parts shown in black will continue to be in black.
Note 1: Final product specifications may change based on the production design.
Note 2: $300 shipping charge will be added to the amount for product rewards. This amount is for shipping anywhere within the contiguous United States.
We have been designing and manufacturing our award-winning SpinoFlex gait training products for the past 18 years. These products have been in use mostly at clinics and some at homes. All users of our products, not being able to walk, use wheelchairs for their mobility. The transfers between the wheelchairs and the gait training devices is an involved process, many times requiring help from others. It is also uncomfortable both physically and psychologically for the users while being transferred. Often, after getting treatment for a brief period, users tend to get tired and break the session only to reverse the transfer process to get back to the wheelchairs. The task of traveling to the clinics also takes time, again requiring multiple transfers between the transportation vehicle and the wheelchair.
This process besides being involved and expensive, discourages users from getting necessary treatment in terms of duration and frequency and hence it may not be as effective as it could have been.
So, we got the idea of adding gait therapy to wheelchairs to make it much easier, effective and inexpensive. The major design goals were power mobility, independent gait therapy, strength and durability, and clean and stylish look. These posed several design and development challenges. After building several prototypes we were successfully able to build models that satisfied our goals.
Now, we need your help to make this a reality that is accessible to a larger population!
When you decide to support this project, you will be changing millions of lives once we are able to meet our backing goals!
All great things begin with a vision, but they only become a reality when other people are able to see that vision and help it come to fruition.
Back this project today and give the ultimate gift to those who need it!
The goal was to develop a single column compact user support mechanism that includes flexible position controls from the SpinoFlex dual column system. We wanted to quickly build a prototype to get a feel for performance using our custom aluminum extrusions, steel tubing and plywood panels. The idea was to create space for the user to stand or walk when the seat was folded down.
Then we added tilt mechanism and did some basic testing, and the performance was very disappointing. The frame was flexing a lot and the actuators were weak besides being noisy. So we replaced plywood panels with steel frames. We also replaced the frame with stronger steel tubing. The heavy duty aluminum extrusions used for vertical movement was designed for the SpinoFlex frames and has been in use from the beginning with great performance.
We added stronger and quieter actuators for tilt and seat movements. We tested brushless wheelchair motors on a frame and attached the motors to the AbleChair prototype.
We tried the movements using momentary rocker switches for on/off and direction change. This seemed to be working OK. After some stress testing the actuator gears were stripped. Because of the way the user is supported, we needed very strong drive components due to resulting high cantilever forces. We replaced the existing ones with the strongest and quiet actuators we could find. We also replaced the back support arm with stronger steel plates for additional rigidity. Though the brushless motors and controllers sounded good, the motors looked weak and the controller failed after some use. It was a reliability issue so we decided to replace them with stronger brushed motors and controller sets.
With a few more changes, the frame felt rigid enough and we added seats and armrests. The above left picture shows initial weight testing. We had to use relays and push buttons to drive the motors better. We took the prototype for a test drive with about 200 lbs user. It worked fine for the most part but one of the 40A relays fused due to high current switching.
We tried many different motor controllers that we could find, but only a couple worked well for us. We used a Bluetooth remote control, a raspberry pi, motor controller and a custom made circuit board to drive the position control motors. Using software we were able to prevent relay switching when current is flowing, ensuring safe switching. The software also controlled acceleration and deceleration so it was also more comfortable for the users, avoiding sudden movements. The entire user support component was attached to the wheel base by a single bolt. The AbleChair used two mounting points to the user support component at different heights, so the base can be switched to another base with the user in the wheelchair. The base need not be a wheelbase, it can be column, wall, pole or other device, built for a specific purpose. The middle picture above shows an example larger wheelbase. The right side picture shows the first pre-production model under development. This became a mid wheel drive model for tighter turns and increased stability as shown in the video.
The picture above left shows the first pre-production model under development. Seat and back pads can be changed easily in the model. The right side picture is the second pre-production model. We lowered the back pivot point for better performance and developed a phone app to drive Arduino based controller for controlling motors and reading sensors. The previous raspberry pi based controls took about 15 seconds to boot, which could be too long for the users. It also did not have user feedback. The Arduino based controls start instantly and users get touch screen based flexible controls, and can get great feedback from the system. The phone app above right shows control buttons, speed, lift height, tilt and seat angles. Functionality can be enhanced through software updates.
Below is a video of our first prototype that we could put a user on.
spinalcord.com - Tiffiny Carlson, https://www.spinalcord.com/blog/ablechair-wheelchair-helps-you-get-to-the-ground
Bundonis - Joanne Bundonis, PT, PCS, ATP, https://www.rifton.com/resources/articles/2011/february/benefits-of-early-mobility-with-an-emphasis-on-gait-training
Risks and challenges
As with any leading-edge product like the AbleChair, there are natural risks and challenges in engineering and manufacturing that may delay the production. We try our best to minimize risks and challenges. We have been in the business of designing and manufacturing of the SpinoFlex gait training products for the past 18 years and have partnered with several suppliers to mitigate any production issues. We already have fully working prototypes as well as pre-production models that have demonstrated the product functionality that you see in the video. With your support, we can bring the much needed AbleChair to the wheelchair community.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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