Innovative, off-road wheelchairs hit the US market

by Elaine Bible
Innovative, off-road wheelchairs hit the US market
San Francisco resident Brian Tsai is one of the first U.S. customers to use a RoughRider wheelchair.

The rugged, low-cost wheelchairs designed by SF State's Whirlwind Wheelchair program have helped thousands of people in developing countries. Now they're available in the U.S., where they are opening up new territory for American wheelchair-riders, from hiking trails and beaches to snow-covered ground.

Whirlwind Wheelchair's flagship "RoughRider" wheelchair uses off-road mountain bike wheels and helps people in Third World countries travel across , such as muddy village paths and potholed streets. The product has already provided independence and mobility to in more than 40 developing countries, including earthquake survivors in Haiti.

After recently gaining , the RoughRider wheelchair is now for sale in the United States.

San Francisco resident Brian Tsai was one of Whirlwind Wheelchair's first U.S. customers.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
Meet Brian, one of Whirlwind Wheelchair’s first US customers. Living in San Francisco, hear why Brian loves his RoughRider.

"My RoughRider takes me places I want to go and allows me to live my life with more freedom and comfort," said Tsai, who has tried various different wheelchair models since he began using a wheelchair in 2003.

"Now, I'm no longer limited to smooth ," he said. "I can travel over dirt and grass, and can do things I couldn't do before like accepting an invitation to a picnic."

The RoughRider's debut in the U.S. is an example of "trickle up innovation," in which products designed for developing countries work their way back to Western markets. Because of its unique design, such as the use low cost and easily replaceable bicycle parts, the RoughRider costs about a third of the price of most wheelchairs sold in the U.S.

For every RoughRider purchased in the U.S., Whirlwind Wheelchair will also donate a wheelchair to a person in the developing world through their "Buy-One-Give-One" program. The proceeds from each wheelchair sale enable the program's engineers to design new products, operating out of their research and development lab at SF State. Currently in the works are a children's wheelchair and a hand-powered tricycle, both designed to bring mobility to people in .

"This is in line with our nonprofit mission," said Keoke King, marketing manager for Whirlwind Wheelchair. "Our goal is to support our service to people with disabilities in the , where 20 million people need a and do not have one."

More information: To purchase a RoughRider or make a donation to Whirlwind Wheelchair, visit www.whirlwindwheelchair.org/

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Wheelchair transformer draws viewers at Tokyo show

Dec 14, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- A novel attachment that is designed for an ordinary wheelchair can turn the chair into a “power-coaster” with electric drive. The transformed manual wheelchair into an electric wheelchair ...

Recommended for you

Uruguay begins registering marijuana growers

2 hours ago

Just a handful of people had registered by midday Wednesday to be private growers of marijuana in Uruguay, the first country to fully legalize the production, sale and distribution of the drug.

Tracking spending among the commercially insured

12 hours ago

Recent growth in health care spending for commercially insured individuals is due primarily to increases in prices for medical services, rather than increased use, according to a new study led by researchers at The Dartmouth ...

Taking aim at added sugars to improve Americans' health

16 hours ago

Now that health advocates' campaigns against trans-fats have largely succeeded in sidelining the use of the additive, they're taking aim at sugar for its potential contributions to Americans' health conditions. But scientists ...

User comments