Wheelchairs for children with disabilities


College students have designed
what may be the smallest, lightest, and least-expensive wheelchair ever, with a PVC-pipe frame that can be adjusted as the child grows.  Unlike many standard power chairs, which are wide and heavy, the BYU chair will not require remodeling a house or buying a new car.  In fact, these wheelchairs can be folded and tossed, rather than mechanically lifted, into the trunk of a car. 

For their mechanical engineering capstone project, four BYU students spent two semesters designing a building the wheelchair. 
  • Dimensions:   29.75" high, 13.5" wide, and 22.5" long.  A standard power chair starts at 32x22x27.

  • PVC Pipe:       Longer pieces of pipe can be substituted to expand the chair for children up to 50 lbs.

  • Speed:            4 mph.  The team had the first prototype going much faster, but reined it in to match the
                            standard power-chair speed.

  • Height:            20.5#.  A standard power chair is 100-300+ pounds.

  • Battery Life:   1.5 - 2 hours.  A slightly heavier battery would last the whole school day.

  • Cost:               $490.40.  The team beat the budget set by the project sponsor by a few bucks. 
                            A standard power chair runs $2,000-$7,000. 
                            (The Open Wheel Chair video claims the cost is under $400.00) 
Instructions to build the chair are available for FREE online at http://www.openwheelchair.org.  (Sweet Wheels, by Leah Davis, BYU Magazine, Summer 2015, p. 16)