Wheelchairs are fantastic; they give people with mobility issues the ability to get around. They enrich the lives of hundreds of thousands of people across the globe.
A Brief History of Wheelchairs
Wheelchairs have been around for far longer than many people think. There is one depicted on a Chinese frieze that dates back to the 6th century. However, some historians believe that was an early pram because it is depicted next to a child’s bed.
There is written evidence of wheelchairs being used to transport the disabled three centuries later. Again, it is the Chinese who came up with this idea.
Apart from that, there is very little evidence of wheelchairs being used elsewhere in the world. It is unlikely that there were none at all in use it is just that there is no record of them. In 1595, King Philip II of Spain had one made for him. The paraplegic watchmaker, Stephen Farfler made himself a self-propelled three-wheeled wheelchair in 1655.
In the 1760s, the bath chair was invented. It was normally a large elongated wicker chair attached to two large wheels and with a small wheel at the front. It was extremely popular and was really the first example of a commercial wheelchair.
The first steel framed, collapsible wheelchair was made in 1933 by Harry Jennings and Herbert Everest. They were also the first people to begin to mass-produce wheelchairs.
Today, there are literally hundreds of wheelchair manufacturers. They make dozens of different designs. Some are very specialist some will even make a customised wheelchair.
Choosing Between Wheelchairs
Buying the right wheelchair is important. There are a lot to choose from, so it is important to get advice before buying. The best sources of advice are people who already use them and dealers.
It is best to speak to other users who have similar mobility issues. If you have a progressive disease, speaking to people at all stages of the disease progression is a good idea. Many people in this situation end up having to buy several wheelchairs over the course of their life to cope with the changes to their body as they age.