The wheelchair is a mobile device on wheels used by those who find it difficult or impossible to walk due to illness, injury, and disability.
Traction can be of two types:
- manual, pushing the wheels with your hands.
- electric, thanks to motorized systems.
Types of wheelchairs
There are various types of wheelchairs:
- sports (used in basketball, marathon and other sports competitions, characterized by aerodynamic shapes often very different from the “standard” versions).
The wheelchair seems to be an invention already known in Greece where vases dated 6th century BC have been found, which seem to represent something similar to a wheelchair (although there is no confirmation as to how and by whom they were used) . Some sources also point to Chinese depictions, dated around 525 AD.
Although Europeans developed a similar design, this method of transportation didn’t exist until 1595 when an unknown Spanish inventor built one for King Philip II. Although it was an elaborate chair with armrests and leg rests, the design still had shortcomings as it did not have an efficient propulsion mechanism and therefore required assistance to push it.
The first self-propelled wheelchair (that is, it does not need to be pushed by third parties) was designed in 1655 by the German Stephan Farffler. It is also referred to as the ancestor of modern tricycles and bicycles One of the first representations on canvas dates back to a work of 1761 by Peter Jacob Horemans present in the Nymphenburg castle in Munich, in the bedroom of the north wing of the complex central.
In 1887, wheelchairs were introduced to Atlantic City so that disabled tourists could rent them to enjoy the Boardwalk. Soon many tourists (even in good health, i.e. not disabled) rented decorated wheelchairs and related servants to push them.
In 1933 Harry C. Jennings and his disabled friend Herbert Everest, both mechanical engineers, invented the first portable, lightweight, steel, foldable wheelchair. Everest and Jennings became the first mass-market wheelchair manufacturers.