New Wheelchair Actually Climbs Stairs

It is estimated that approximately two million people in the United States use wheelchairs. On August 13, 2003 the Federal Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) approved a revolutionary new wheelchair. The INDEPENDENCE iBOT 3000 Mobility System utilizes a breakthrough technology which actually enables it to climb stairs. This wheelchair senses weight shifts of the user and adjusts the wheel position to keep the user’s center of gravity under the wheels. Because of a unique stabilization system, the seat remains level during all of its maneuvers.

As the occupant backs up to the first step the chair begins to rotate the front wheels over the rear wheels and then down onto the first step. This process continues with the user’s weight shifts until the chair ascends all the steps. The chair descends the steps forward thereby assuring that the user will always face down the stairs.

Climbing stairs is not the only feature of this super chair. With a push of a button the user can convert it from a standard chair with four wheels to an elevated chair which balances on two wheels. This enables the user to be at eye level for conversation or to reach high places.

The chair is also equipped with four wheel drive to allow it to maneuver over rough terrain and climb as high as a four inch curb. Sand, gravel or slopes are no match for the iBOT.

The only restrictions of the chair are that a person must not weigh more than 250 pounds and have the ability to use at least one of their arms to operate the chair.This sophisticated chair also requires that the user have the ability to exercise good judgment and perception skills to navigate obstacles and slopes to avoid serious falls.

Although exertion is required to climb stairs by the user alone, the chair comes with a feature that allows another person to tilt the chair’s back to cause it to climb stairs when the user is not capable of exertion on their own. However, not just any physician can prescribe the iBOT.

Physicians or other healthcare professionals who prescribe the device must undergo special training. Moreover, patients must pass certain perception and cognitive tests as well as enduring special training before using the chair.

FDA Commissioner, Dr. Mark B McClellan, stated that the chair’s “approval is emblematic of FDA’s commitment to help innovative medical technologies reach patients promptly. It can help improve the quality of life of many people who use wheelchairs by enabling them to manage stairs, reach high shelves and hold eye-level conversations.

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