Faculty Advisor

Ault, Holly K.

Faculty Advisor

Hoffman, Allen H.


Impacts between powered wheelchairs and their surroundings can cause injury to the occupants and damage the wheelchair and environment. Wheelchair bumpers are not commercially available. The project goal was to design a shock absorbing system to reduce problems associated with wheelchair collisions. A bumper system consisting of two sub-systems was designed, built and tested. One sub-system is a footbox that prevents client injury by acting as a physical barrier between the area of impact and the client's feet. The footbox also absorbs energy by compressing viscoelastic foam. The second sub-system is a parallelogram linkage footrest hanger mount that encases a viscoelastic polyurethane bumper. Both sub-systems are mounted to the wheelchair without major modifications. Results of static and dynamic tests show that the system is able to reduce the forces experienced by the wheelchair for impacts up to five mph and to lower the probability of injury of the occupant.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Date Accepted

January 1999


Biomedical Engineering




Mechanical Engineering

Project Type

Major Qualifying Project


Restricted-WPI community only

Advisor Department

Mechanical Engineering