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Custom ‘Rowing’ Wheelchair for Teenager with Joint Disorder
Pedro, a patient at Shriners Hospital for Children, Houston has arthrogryposis, a congenital disorder causing severe limitation of movement in all his joints. Pedro"s disability prevents him from pulling his arms in at the elbows "?? though he can push out. In addition, his wrists are locked in a rotated position. Rice University students are near completion of a four-year effort to make him a custom wheelchair, which works with a paddling motion that does not require Pedro to turn the wheels of his manual wheelchair by hand. The new chair has push-forward paddles instead of armrests. Pedro places his hands inside fabric loops and pushes to move. The spring-loaded arms do the work when it"s time to pull his arms back to complete the cycle. The chair was built at Rice"s Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen (OEDK); the parts were fabricated and assembled there with the exception of hub-mounted transmissions on each wheel that allow Pedro to go forward and backward and also give him a neutral gear. Doctors at Shriners have suggested the wheelchair design may be suitable for people with spina bifida, cerebral palsy, and other disabilities.
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