History of the Wheelchair

The end of the year is a time for reflection, resolutions, and relaxation. This year marks the beginning of a new decade: 2020. As such, social media is filed with things like ten- year photo challenges, and preemptive decade-long resolutions in the name of new beginnings. Time changes people, but it also changes the world around us. For example, I recently asked someone if they owned a landline telephone, to which they replied, “A what?” Aside from feeling old, telecommunications technology really has come a long way since the eighties and nineties.  Thankfully, the same can be said of assistive technology like wheelchairs.

The first wheelchair dedicated to mobility was created in 1595 for Philip II of Spain and looked more like a lounge chair than the wheelchairs of today. The chair had small wheels attached to the end of a chair’s legs and had an adjustable backrest and included a platform. It wasn’t self-propelled but that’s because the king always had servants to carry him everywhere.

Skipping ahead a few hundred years, self-propulsion was invented in 1881, the first motorized chair followed in 1945, and the rest is history. Ever since then, home medical equipment (HME) providers like Quantum Rehab® have been working tirelessly to create products that drastically improve the lives of those in need of mobility assistance. My Edge 3 is one of the most advanced chairs to date, with features like iLevel® technology and SRS (Smooth Ride Suspension). SRS provides me with the easiest possible driving experience.

Anyone can read a spec sheet (in fact, please do, more information allows for a better buying experience), but the end user is the ultimate test of a chair’s usability on a daily basis. Here are some of my favorite features on my Edge 3 electric wheelchair that are also available as options to anyone in the market for a new wheelchair.

iLevel technology

Quantum’s top feature is iLevel, a revolutionary technology that allows the user to elevate up to 12 inches in height while seated. Gone are the days of being too short to reach things or looking up to engage in a conversation. With iLevel, wheelchair users will have more independence than ever before.  Other uses of iLevel include reaching yogurt from a high shelf, communicating with friends and coworkers in standing environments, and making your presence known on the dance floor!

TRU-Balance® 3 Tilt and Recline

Wheelchair users are familiar with sitting for long periods of time. Remaining sedentary for an extended duration can lead to potentially serious health issues, like pressure sores on the skin if left unchecked. Thanks to TRU-Balance 3, the wheelchair is capable of everything from a minor seat adjustment to naps with the help of power tilt, recline, and articulating foot platform. Tilt  angles the entire frame upwards and is perfect for quick adjustments and lounging in front of the TV. Recline isolates the backrest from the rest of the chair, making it ideal for naps and certain fitness activities.  Using the articulating foot platform, I go into what I like to call “Sleep mode.” Sleep mode” is an unofficial feature that uses the components mentioned above to create a relaxation experience that would make King Philip II jealous!

Assistive mobility technology has grown exponentially in such a short time. What started as a medical necessity has quickly evolved into a statement of empowerment and independence with technology like iLevel. Whatever the future holds, rest assured that Quantum will be at the forefront.

About Tim Shin: Tim lives in River Vale, NJ, and works as a communications manager for AbleThrive, a nonprofit organization. He enjoys food, fashion, music and television. Click here to learn more about Tim.