Design of an Elevating legrest for a Wheelchair

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atrc, assistive, technology, resource, center, mqp, wheelchair, leg, legrest, rest, spinal, bifida, cerebral, palsy, muscular, dystrophy


The goal of this project was to design an elevating legrest for a wheelchair that will improve circulation in the user’s legs by allowing the knees to be straight when the legrest is in the elevated position, and the hips and upper legs to be stationary. Individuals with Spinal Bifida, Cerebral Palsy, and Muscular Dystrophy need the assistance of mobility devices such as a wheelchair to enable their independence. These wheelchairs need to provide proper support for comfort and need to allow the individual to reposition one’s self in the chair. Changing one’s position on the wheelchair is necessary for facilitating circulation in the limbs and decreasing the under-leg soreness. The design team began by creating functional requirements for the device and analyzing the fundamental governing equations. Three preliminary designs were then generated for each aspect of the device: motion of the legrest, user interface, locking mechanism, and attachment mechanism. Analyses of these design concepts through prioritization of functional requirements and creation of design matrices produced a final design. The device fits on the chair and matches the arc of legs within a 13-17 inch range. Adjustments to the pivot location can be made vertically and horizontally at 1/8” intervals, which will accommodate the use of various sized cushions and different femur lengths between users. The pivot adjustment can work for knee locations differing by as much 3 inches, both vertically and horizontally. The team concluded by suggesting few improvements for the device such as: introducing a new material to reduce the friction between the upper and the lower section of the legrest, developing a new locking mechanism that increases the degree of leg flexion, etc.