Design of a One-Arm Driven Manual Wheelchair

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IQP, WPI, Design, Wheelchair, Brake, Mobility


The goal of this MQP was to design a wheelchair that can be operated using a single arm. Individuals with conditions such as stroke, osteoarthritis, and multiple sclerosis often have mobility limitations that present the need for a one-arm driven wheelchair. Commercially available devices that address this need can be difficult to use because of the dexterity or the hand positioning required for operation. Therefore, there is the need for a design for a one-arm driven manual wheelchair that minimizes the required dexterity for operation while improving comfort. The design team generated a list of required functions: the device must allow the wheelchair to be propelled using one arm, the device must allow the wheelchair to be steered using one arm, and the device must allow the wheelchair to brake using one arm. A list of means for meeting these functional requirements was developed, and then design alternatives using combinations of these means were generated. After an evaluation of the design alternatives, the double uni-directional cam clutch system using a toggle-stick was chosen for the final design. A rotor brake system was chosen for the braking mechanism. Each of the three components (propulsion, steering, and braking) were manufactured and were tested individually, and as a complete system. The design of the one-arm driven manual wheelchair was successful in decreasing the force required for propulsion, while maintaining appropriate forces for braking. While the three components used worked effectively when used independently of each other, the overall performance would require improvement prior to use by a client.