A student’s innovative wheelchair design that centres on reversed pushing has won a national competition.
Kirsten Tapping from London South Bank University designed the ‘Moveo’ chair, which separates the wheel from the pushing rail by using a spur gear, meaning that the user does not have to touch the wheel.
This mechanism consequently reduces the force needed and allows users to push backwards to move forward – exerting less force and effort than a normal wheelchair.
Tapping (second from right) won £3,000 prize money, plus £2,000 for her university, from law firm Bolt Burdon Kemp, which ran the inaugural design competition.
This wheelchair was designed especially for people with a spinal cord injury and makes moving easy through gear reduction, lightweight yet high strength materials and a reversed pushing mechanism.
With comfort in mind, intelligent textiles also help to regulate the user’s body temperature.
The purpose of the competition was for UK-based university students to design a product aimed at improving the lives of people with a spinal cord injury.
Tapping’s design was judged the winner by a panel of experts including our head of the spinal injury, Raquel Siganporia, Ross Head from Cerebra, Christa Dyson who is vice-chair of the Spinal Injuries Association and Ian Hosking of Wheelchair Rugby UK.
Tapping said: “Once I have graduated and finished my placement in Spain, I hope to design new products – which this competition has inspired me to do.
“I had the intention coming into this competition of doing anything but a wheelchair, partly because so many designers have had a go, I wasn’t sure what I could add.
“But after seeing horrendous looking wheelchairs and trying one out myself, I decided to see what I could come up with.
“I have come to understand that the day-to-day problems facing people with spinal cord injuries, often their inability to use their hands, properly regulate their body temperature, lack of upper body strength and overall lowered immune system, makes them different from the typical wheelchair buying market – and was first inspired by trying to separate the wheel from the rail, to make sure users hands don’t get dirty.
“While I am not able to address every single issue that comes with the injury, I designed this wheelchair to merge functionality and aesthetics, whilst also facilitating the users’ daily routine.”