The History of Personal Mobility Devices
People have been using personal mobility devices for many hundreds of years. Their history and benefit to society is well recorded and known. Wheelchairs and mobility scooters, two popular types of mobility devices, have been greatly improved upon over the years, but there are many other devices as well that have been used for thousands of years.
The first known image of a wheelchair was carved into a stone in the 6th century and King Philip II, who was the King of Spain during the 16th century, used a very elaborate wheelchair that had both armrests and leg rests. In the 18th century the first wheelchair similar in design to those available today was developed. It had large front wheels and a single wheel in back. By the 19th and 20th century wheelchairs were constructed of wood and wicker design. A US patent was issued for this design in 1894 and they were used by veterans of the Civil War and the First World War.
The first folding wheelchair was designed in 1932, by two engineers, one of whom was injured in a mining accident. In 1950 the first powered wheelchair was designed. It was designed by an inventor named George Klein and was intended to help veterans of World War II. Unlike the first war, many of the individuals who suffered spinal cord injuries had survived World War II, which created an influx of disabled veterans. During this time there were some advances in manual wheelchair technology, but many quadriplegic individuals were still unable to use manual wheelchairs without assistance. Klein, backed by the Canadian government and many other scientists, spearheaded the development of a motorized wheelchair. Many soldiers and veterans played a part in the devices creation and its design was billed as one of the first times that rehabilitation engineering had occurred.
After the invention of the motorized wheelchair, many more advancements were made. Manual wheelchairs became much lighter and maneuverable. Many athletes who were mobility challenged pushed for more athletic models and there were many advances in the technology that was behind the motorized wheelchair.
Mobility scooters were first introduced in the late 1960’s and by the early 1970’s they had become a very popular alternative to the powered wheelchair. Mobility scooters are more intended for people who are able to walk for short distance, but find it painful to do so over extended periods of time. A mobility scooter can not be pulled up to a table or desk as easily as a wheelchair.
Modern mobility devices are very advanced, are electric powered, and feature rechargeable batteries. The specific range of these devices can vary, but some are able to travel over 40 miles per charge. There have also been many advances in non-motorized devices. The walker is a non-motorized mobility device that has been used in some shape or form as long as the wheelchair. Modern walkers often feature front wheels and are called rolling walkers or rollators. These types of devices are great because you can push the walker instead of having to lift it. They feature hand brakes and also double as a chair.
As is usually the case, humans have greatly improved upon the designs of early mobility devices. The models and types available today are some of the most reliable and dependable available and will provide many years of dependable service.