Wednesday, December 13, 2006
My First Wheelchair
I was injured right before I started 3rd grade. This
photo was taken on the last day of 3rd grade. Note the
wheelchair I'm sitting in. That thing was a monster. It
was way too big for me. I don't think kid size wheelchairs
were even made back then. The beast was also very
heavy. Pushing myself around in it with my weak 8
year old arms was not an easy thing to do. I can't
remember exactly when I got a lightweight chair,
but I'm guessing it was when I was 13 or 14. I
remember protesting about getting one. It was new
and therefore weird to me, (I was a teenager), and I
really didn't want one. But I had no choice in the matter.
I got one and wasn't allowed to use the beast anymore,
and I was mad! But I quickly realized how much better
the new wheelchair was.
I found this on the web and thought it was interesting:
6th century - this is the earliest found image of a
wheelchair. It is incised in stone on a Chinese
16th century - King Philip II of Spain used an
elaborate rolling chair with movable arm and leg rests.
1700 - King Louis XIV used a "roulette" for moving about
while recovering from an operation.
18th century - the first wheelchair that resembles today's
design. It had two large front wooden wheels and one
caster in rear.
19th and 20th centuries - following the American Civil war
and World War I, the first wheelchairs were built with
wooden frames, wicker seats, adjustable arm rests,
footrests, and large spoked wheels.
1894 - a U.S. patent was filed for a wheelchair with a fixed
frame, adjustable surfaces, firm wicker seats, and
large rear wheels for self-propulsion.
1932 - Herbert Everest (an injured mining engineer) and
Harold Jennings (a mechanical engineer) collaborated
to design the first folding frame wheelchair. They
went on to form the company that is today known
as Everest & Jennings or E&J.
1937 - a patent was filed for the x-folding frame wheelchair.
Sam Duke also marketed a folding wheelchair at same
1950s - Everest & Jennings developed the first powered
wheelchair. They followed the development of transistor-
controlled motors and adapted it to their interest by
adding a motor to their manual wheelchair design.
1952 - the beginning of wheelchair sports occurred with
the first games held at the Stoke Mandeville
Rehabilitation Center in England.
1964 - the first Paralympic games were held in Tokyo,
1975 - Bob Hall competed in Boston Marathon.
1970/80 - revolution in lighter weight manual chairs
driven by the need and desires of wheelchair athletes.
1980s - microprocessor-controlled powered wheelchairs
were developed, which allowed customization of
controls to meet the needs of more user needs.
1980-90s - the revolution in powered wheelchair design,
control, styles, range or travel distance, suspension,
maneuverability, seating and other user options.
Added by me:
August 2003 - the revolutionary iBOT wheelchair became
available to wheelchair users.