The Product Development Technology Station (PDTS) at the Central University of Technology in Bloemfontein has developed a sustainable wheelchair that incorporates a clip-on handcycle or freewheel to help improve the mobility and reliability of wheelchairs on rough terrain in rural areas and during long-distance travelling.
This wheelchair is a three-in-one solution to the challenges faced by persons with disability in rural areas. It offers them a reliable wheelchair to move around indoors, with a clip-on handcycle or freewheel to aid mobility outdoors.
A wheelchair promotes flexibility, mobility and independency for people with mobility impairments, and improves their quality of life. It enhances their prospects of employment, education and participation, and reduces the cost of care and dependency.
Because of a lack of funding and the financial situation of most state patients, only a select few are helped by private wheelchair companies. Should no wheelchairs be available and the patient be unable to purchase or hire a wheelchair, they are sent home without a wheelchair.
This affects their daily lives and results in some patients being bedridden and totally dependent on their friends and families for mobility within the community.
The PDTS and Schalk van der Merwe, who initiated the project and has been a wheelchair user for the past 27 years, handed over these specially designed wheelchairs to two recipients at the occupational therapy department of the Mangaung Community Health Centre (MUCPP) in Bloemfontein in March.
The idea of a multifunctional, more affordable, stronger and more mobile wheelchair came into being to serve the direct needs of people with disability in rural and low-income areas by offering them a sustainable, reliable solution to improve their mobility.
The PDTS and Van der Merwe have been working on the project for the past two years.