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Attachment for Manual Wheelchair that Converts to Powered Wheelchair

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    Attachment for Manual Wheelchair that Converts to Powered Wheelchair

    Good morning everyone!

    First, I would like to thank the community for the privilege to post on this forum. I am positing because my team and I need help.

    I am an engineering student at the University of Central Florida. My team and I have been working on this device named the ProPulse for the past few months. The device is an electric wheel that attaches to any manual wheelchair and converts it to fully electric. The initial mounts take about 10min to put on the wheelchair but after that, it takes about 5seconds to attach and detach the device.

    The entire goal behind the project is to give more independence and freedom of mobility to all wheelchair users. It seems like there is a serious problem with insurance companies paying for powered wheelchairs and even if they do, the user has to pay for the expensive wheelchair accessible van. I know that the smartdrive does exist but its crazy expensive and doesn't even turn for the user!!!!

    My question is, what can we do to make sure our design will increase the wheelchair communities quality of life the most we possibly can? Is this a device you need or would even be interested in?

    Price: What is the max you are truly willing to pay out of pocket? $1000, $1500, $2000, etc?

    Mounting: This is an interesting one. Our team needs a relatively consistent location to mount the device, currently we chose the axle since (from our understanding) it doesn't change too much from user to user. Any thoughts on this? Better locations? Specific type of mounting you would like to have?

    Range: How many miles do you expect it to last? 6miles, 10miles, 15miles, etc

    Weight: What is the maximum amount of weight you would be okay with? 8lbs, 12lbs, 20lbs, etc

    Immediate No-No: What would you HATE for this device to have or lack? Is there a specific deal breaker we should keep in mind?

    Features: What features would you love to see? They can be as silly or traditional (like a phone charger) as you would like!

    Insurance: Would you like the option to buy this through insurance one day or would you rather never deal with insurance to get a device like this?

    Any advice, even if it has nothing to do with the questions above, would be truly appreciated. We want to make sure that we do this right and actually benefits the wheelchair community.

    Thank you again for including me in the forum. I am excited to learn more about the community
    Last edited by ProPulse; 1 Apr 2019, 12:22 PM.

    I assume you've done adequate market research on the several products already on the market that accomplish this same goal. (SmartDrive, Dragonfly, Zx-1, Bicycle Motorworks EWA, Firefly, etc.)

    My advice would be to make one better. How far do they go? Go farther. How much do they weigh? Weigh less. How much do they cost? Cost less. How hard are they for one (disabled) person to attach by themselves? Be easier. Etc, etc, etc.

    My personal deal-breaker is something too bulky and "medical" looking. Needs to be sleek and understated for me to be interested.
    "I have great faith in fools; self-confidence my friends call it." - Edgar Allen Poe

    "If you only know your side of an issue, you know nothing." -John Stuart Mill, On Liberty


      You might want to stop using a term that many people who are wheelchair users hate: "wheelchair bound". Wheelchair mobile or wheelchair user are much more PC terms.

      The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.


        @oddity Thank you for all of the feedback!! I'll keep all of these things in mind. We've done endless market research and even though all of those products you mentioned have some valuable attributes, none of them do it all. The things that we are not willing to sacrifice are price, convenience, ease of use, time to purchase, and wheelchair compatibility. Also, thank you for mentioning the 'sleek' factor, I was not sure how much that was valued. I'll make sure we focus on that when making the outside shell of the device.


          @SCI-Nurse Absolutely, I immediately updated the original post. I understand that I have a lot to learn about the community and apologize if I offended anyone. I really appreciate you letting me know!


            Been riding a hand cycle for 43 years. Never used an attachable before because they were mostly inefficient or downright dangerous. Last year I bought the Stryker and am very impressed by how efficient and well built it is. Presently I am switching between the Stryker and my Freedom Ryder that has a RoadRace Powerpod attached to the rear. Stryker also makes a non crank powered front wheel attachment but it's slow.

            For myself, anything that requires a bracket that's left on my chair is a no go. Also cheap running gear and brakes are also something that would disqualify any hand cycle I was considering. I would think that would raise the selling price quite a bit but would be worth it because if it's cheaply made and inefficient, it won't be used.

            Are you planning on it just being a powered front wheel attachment or an attachable front wheeled handcycle? The big downfall for me on the Stryker is using the power throttle and no cranking is how slow it is. Where as my recumbent with the Road Race on it can do 30mph with a lithium battery and no cranking if I just want to cruise. I don't do 30mph but would be nice if the Stryker could at least get up to 10 on it's own power. They blame the slowness on the throttle is supposed to be for taking off. At 100% battery use, it should be programmed to go twice as fast as the 50% output. My shoulders are pretty shot so it's nice to take a break and still be going at a good clip.

            Something that's critical for an efficient bike is the wheel used has to strike the ground at 90o or you'll get a wobble as the speed increases. The early Jansen h/c/ were notorious for flipping because the wheel was not hitting the ground at 90o. This happened even while going straight.


              My husband uses an E-fix system that attaches to his manual chair and allows him to drive it with a joystick. We love it. Only problems, manufactured in Germany, only one place in the US that fixes is in Pennsylvania. We seem to have to send wheels in at least 2-3 times per year. What we like is that he can still tip the chair and with assistance pull him up stairs to get into our friends' homes. He is a C4/5 with C6/7 sparing quad that can do his own weight shifts leaning forward and push himself back up but cannot transfer or push a manual wheelchair on his own even with power assist, as his shoulder blades "wing" and would quickly damage his shoulders. We assume we are a small niche group that uses such chair.


                Make it from "off the shelve" products.
                Make it so a quad that can push a chair, can attach and detach the device.
                Make it modular so if something fails the piece can be easily removed and the new piece put on.
                Get a chair and try out what's out there, yourself. Lug it around, for a few days. Hall it in and out of a car. Use it indoors and outside.


                  @Patrick Madsen I think there may be some confusion with what the device actually is. It is an electric wheel that would be attached to the center axle of the wheelchair that is controlled by a joystick. It would give all the functions of the powered wheelchairs so it would be geared for everyday use. The goal is to pretty much make it so that ANYONE who wants a powered wheelchair can have one by attaching this to their manual chair.

                  Speed would be adjustable but there would definitely be a limit for safety (7mph is what we were shooting for)

                  You made a great point with the programming though! Changing the max speed based on the available battery life.


                    @NebrFarmer My team and I never considered the ability to be assisted going up stairs! We just had a meeting and are going to be working on a new design this week to adjust for this Okay it is safe to assume that you would REALLY appreciate dedicated personal that can personally come to your home in the event that there has to be maintenance or issues? Did you guys buy the E-fix or through insurance? What would you be willing to pay for a device like this if no insurance was involved? Sorry for all of the question but it really helps!
                    Last edited by ProPulse; 2 Apr 2019, 11:25 AM.


                      @baldfatdad The problem with off the shelf components is quality, we wanted to make it as high quality as possible to avoid any parts breaking. Would it help if we incorporated some sort of maintenance team whose job is to pretty much take care of any problems personally? Also, we do have a chair and we already made a prototype that works on the chair. problem...We got one of the common 'folding chairs'..little did we know that the most common chairs are the Rigid Frame so we had to go back to the drawing board this week to change the mounts.. lol rookie mistake. I really like the idea of getting in the chair myself for at least a few days. I'm going to do that this week. Spend 3 days in the chair. I think that will really help in the design. Thank you for that suggestion


                        Really sorry about posting so many repeat replies everyone... I am new to this whole forum thing and kept re-writing my replies after getting the approval error (hoping that they would go through). Won't do that again lol
                        Last edited by ProPulse; 2 Apr 2019, 11:26 AM. Reason: Mistake


                          This was another duplicate response mistake
                          Last edited by ProPulse; 2 Apr 2019, 11:24 AM.


                            This was another duplicate response mistake
                            Last edited by ProPulse; 2 Apr 2019, 11:25 AM.


                              This was another duplicate response mistake..
                              Last edited by ProPulse; 2 Apr 2019, 11:25 AM.