2017  •   Engineering and Technology

Rapidly Deployable Wheelchair Power Assist Device

Lead Presenter: Louise Katzovitz

Additional Presenters: Andrew Gouldstone, Martin Bujwid, Max Sminkey, Thomas West

PI: Louise Katzovitz, Andrew Gouldstone

ConnectIn WinnerHealthcare workers have a physically taxing job that results in high rates of injury. One expected task is pushing patients in wheelchairs for extended periods. Relatively steep inclines and added chair accessories can increase the effort required. All these factors can lead to fatigue and/or chronic injury. Accordingly, this project focuses on designing and building a power assist device to reduce the force required to transport a patient in a healthcare setting. This device must also be rapidly deployable/interchangeable between chairs, must not interfere with typical wheelchair operation, and must meet all applicable regulatory requirements. The created solution uses a claw drive system to directly turn the larger wheels on the chair. One device is installed on each side of the wheelchair, mounted behind the armrest and concentrically to the spokes of the wheel. The interconnected wedges of the hub are actuated to engage the hub and provide centering about the wheel. The upper portion of the device contains a quick release handle and clamp system to install the device on compatible wheelchairs. The device is designed to deliver up to 50% power assist on the maximum allowable incline of five degrees to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) at and above normal walking speed. The team created the device to fit on a Tracer EX-2, the most widely used wheelchair in Boston area healthcare facilities; alteration to fit other popular chairs is possible with minor modifications.

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