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Stakeholder-Driven Design Evolution of the Leveraged Freedom Chair Developing World Wheelchair

[+] Author Affiliations
Amos G. Winter, V, Mario A. Bollini, Benjamin M. Judge, Harrison F. O’Hanley, Daniel S. Dorsch, Daniel D. Frey

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

Natasha K. Scolnik

Global Research Innovation and Technology, Cambridge, MA

Sudipto Mukherjee

Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, New Delhi, India

Paper No. IMECE2012-88881, pp. 361-368; 8 pages
  • ASME 2012 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 5: Education and Globalization; General Topics
  • Houston, Texas, USA, November 9–15, 2012
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4521-9
  • Copyright © 2012 by ASME


The Leveraged Freedom Chair (LFC) is a low-cost, all-terrain, variable mechanical advantage, lever-propelled wheelchair designed for use in developing countries. The user effectively changes gear by shifting his hands along the levers; grasping near the ends increases torque delivered to the drive-train, while grasping near the pivots enables a larger angular displacement with every stroke, which increases angular velocity in the drivetrain and makes the chair go faster. This paper chronicles the design evolution of the LFC through three user trials in East Africa, Guatemala, and India. Feedback from test subjects was used to refine the chair between trials, resulting in a device 9.1 kg (20 lbs) lighter, 8.9 cm (3.5 in) narrower, and with a center of gravity 12.7 cm (5 in) lower than the first iteration. Survey data substantiated increases in performance after successive iterations. Quantitative biomechanical performance data were also measured during the Guatemala and India trials, which showed the LFC to be 76 percent faster and 41 percent more efficient during a common daily commute and able to produce 51 percent higher peak propulsion force compared to conventional, pushrim-propelled wheelchairs.

Copyright © 2012 by ASME



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