California State Northridge – Steering Wheelchair Innovation

According to a recent study by the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA), wheelchair users often experience painful, problematic, and secondary complications due to long-term sitting.

Engineering students at California State Northridge along with Van Nuys High School have teamed up with the non-profit organization Voice of Specially Abled People Inc. to develop a prototype for a Wheelchair Assist program that will help people to sit in and stand out of a wheelchair to counteract the adverse effects of constant sitting.

The Wheelchair Assist project was awarded an EPICS in IEEE grant to mechanically engineer an electric seat life and a walker for the user to independently sit down and stand up without assistance. The project includes both a mechanical design of the integrated walked as part of the wheelchair and an electromechanical design for the electric seat lift.

The 10-month project affords students with hands-on design experience in developing a prototype system from start to finish, which will be evaluated and shared with the community through a survey to measure the implications and benefits. Any issues will be documented and addressed in later phases of design. 

The students hope that this new innovation will offer newfound independence, improve overall psychological well-being, increase circulation and range of motion, reduce skeletal deformities, and prove the ability to maintain bone mineral density.

Author: Michele Currenti

Michele is a creative content intern in Educational Activities at IEEE. She is currently pursing her masters in Voice & Opera at the University of Maryland, College Park. She also completed a Bachelor of Science in Brain & Cognitive Science at the University of Rochester and a Bachelor of Music at the Eastman School of Music. She is interested in finding the various intersections of science and the arts to better humanity.