made Easy: An ergonomic power-assisted wheelchair transfer mechanism
My idea was to make a motorized wheelchair device that helps people get in and out of their wheelchairs easily, all by themselves without the help of a caregiver. My parents and I go to area nursing homes regularly to visit with the elderly grandmas and grandpas there. During our visits, I noticed that if the patients wanted to move from a bed to a chair or vice-verse they had to wait for a nurse or someone to come and help them get in and out of their wheelchairs and sometimes they had to wait a long time. This problem prompted me to build a device that could help people in wheelchairs get in and out quickly without the help of another person. This device would definitely make life much simpler and they can be more independent. I studied about the various wheelchairs and researched the different methods of getting in and out of wheelchairs on the internet. Although I found some transfer systems, almost all of these units needed a caregiver to help them. SO I decided to build my system to be self-operated by the user. I studied the MIT course entitled "SP.784 Wheelchair Design in Developing Countries" online as part of my research on the topic to enhance my understanding of wheel chair mechanisms and operation. I then started building various wheelchair models out of K’nex: a versatile building toy. I also made some transfer mechanisms with gears and pulleys in K'Nex. When I was gathering garbage from our kitchen trash can under the sink, I got the idea to use the same "sliding mechanism" for the wheel chair transfer mechanism, which I purchased from HomeDepot. I attached a plywood board to this and made a wheel chair model out of plywood in my neighbor's garage workshop. The next step was to figure out how to move the slider by the person who is seated on the wheelchair. I went to HomeDepot and looked at various pulleys to use and bought some to try out. I then built a manually cranked device based on a 4 pulley system to slide the seat back and forth. My next step was to motorize the mechanism. I striped an old ATV(all Terrain Vehicle) that I had found in the garbage, for my motor. I first tried connecting the motor to the pulley to move the seat, but it was too fast for the user and too difficult to control the movement. The second idea was to use a screw based device to move the seat. This provided better speed and controlled movement for the user. My neighbor helped me to weld a big, long screw to the motor shaft. I used the 12 volt ATV battery to power the motor, which then turned the bolt, which was attached to the sliding seat. My dad taught me about DPDT switches, and we bought and wired one to the motor to make it back and forth with the flip of a switch.
Draft/Placeholder for Daniel Anand – Maker fair – NY 2013