When was wheelchair invented? The wheelchair is a device that is used to help people who are unable to walk on their own. This article will explore the history of the wheelchair and how it has evolved over the years.

So, when was it invented? Read this article until end to know the answer for it. In this blog, we also have an article about best lightweight wheelchair for travel that you might want to read about it.

When Was Wheelchair Invented

Over the decades, the wheelchair has seen several variations. Here are the breakdown for the history of wheelchair:

  • The oldest evidence of a contraption resembling a wheelchair goes all the way back to China in the fifth century BCE. The first iterations were inspired by wheeled furniture designs. The Chinese are thought to have utilized wheelbarrows to transport crippled persons.
  • Around the 12th century, it is thought that the wheelbarrow and primitive forms of the wheelchair were invented in Europe.
  • The first self-propelled wheelchair is invented in 1655. It was created in Germany by Stephan Farfler, a crippled watchmaker. His invention included three wheels, and he controlled it through a rotating handle mounted on the front wheel. Around the same time period, Johann Hautsch, a German inventor and mechanic, produced a series of rolling chairs.
  • James Heath, an English inventor, invented the bath chair in 1760. Even though it was originally created for ladies, it became a popular mode of travel for those with diseases and impairments. The design is comparable to that of a rickshaw. It was equipped with three and four wheels and could be pushed or dragged. Other versions were created to allow for horse-drawn carriages.
  • Wheelchairs were a common sight in medical catalogues in the 18th century. They were marketed as patient transportation devices. They resembled armchairs, with two bigger front wheels and a smaller rear wheel.
  • The basic chair is created in 1901. It bears a striking resemblance to the current design of wheelchairs in use today. It was equipped with a seat, footrests, and four wheels – two smaller ones in front and two bigger ones in rear.
  • The foldable wheelchair was introduced in 1932. It’s one of the most significant design innovations in the device’s history. Harry Jennings created it for a buddy. The foldable design and tubular steel cross-frame chair became the industry standard. This approach enabled individuals to utilize their wheelchairs outside of their homes, hospitals, and long-term care institutions. Later designs expanded on Jennings’ principles and emphasized the chair’s weight reduction and general performance.
  • 1950: Following World War II, demand for wheelchairs increased significantly. Thousands of injured veterans need aid with movement. George Klein, a Canadian, saw a need and designed the electric wheelchair for veterans. The initial concept was a normal wheelchair with the addition of a motor. Later prototypes included the engine and batteries into the chair’s underside. As new technologies were developed, more advancements in ergonomics, controls, comfort, and performance occurred.
  • 1980: The first niche wheelchair designs hit the market. The rigid wheelchair was invented during this time period. It was created with athletes in mind. They are self-propelled and some are capable of reaching speeds of up to 30 kilometers per hour.

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The Fundamentals of Wheelchair Design

Today’s wheelchairs are often comprised of the following key components:

  • tires,
  • wheels,
  • axles,
  • rests for the legs
  • as well as armrests.

All wheelchairs have four wheels: two big wheels at the back and two tiny swivel wheels at the front, referred to as casters. The wheelchair’s two bigger wheels are utilized to push it and support the bulk of the user’s weight. Casters aid in mobility. Also in this blog, we also have an article about how to choose travel wheelchair that you might want to read about it.

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