Development Of a Prototype Bumper System For Powered Wheelchairs

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WPI, MQP, Assistive, Technology, Resource, Center, ATRC, Bumper, System, Footrest, Foot, Rest


The goal of this MQP was to design an energy absorbing bumper system that can protect the feet of a wheelchair user when the user is participating in contact sports or any other activities that involve contact between the wheelchair and its surroundings. Wheelchair users are able to play sports in existing powered wheelchairs that can weigh up to 300 lbs and travel at speeds up to 7 mph. However, a collision between a wheelchair traveling at these speeds and any surrounding objects can potentially injure the user, damage the wheelchair, or damage the surroundings. The design team developed a prototype of a bumper system that could be reversibly attached to a wheelchair, which consisted of two components, a modified footrest hanger and an integrated footbox. The footrest hanger is shaped like a parallelogram and includes a footrest and an energy absorbing element. When the user’s feet are placed on the footrest, the parallelogram deforms and the energy absorbing element compresses. The footbox contains an impact barrier and allows for lateral and frontal movement of the footrest. Static tests and impact tests were conducted to ensure that the bumper system could withstand the appropriate forces and strains. The evaluation of the bumper system indicated that when the bumper system was used in conjunction with the wheelchair, collisions during contact sports reduce the impact on the user and minimize damage to the wheelchair.