Wijit: Crank Heaven

ucp-award-02Forget push rims, levers are SO in right now.

I posted about Leveraged Freedom Chair, a low-cost, highly durable lever-based wheelchair designed for users in developing countries. We’ve also got the Wijit — a slick accessory that attaches to most manual chairs to convert them from being push-based to lever-propelled.

From the press release …

The Wijit is a wheelchair accessory that replaces standard push-rim wheels with a lever-driven wheel set that allows users to go faster, climb easier, brake safer and turn more precisely without the wrist, shoulder and hand injuries endemic to push-rim wheelchair use. Wijits allow users to sustain a healthy cardiovascular rate for extended distances, helping to curb multiple co-morbidities related to wheelchair use. Wijits fit on nearly any manual chair and allow many individuals who cannot operate a manual chair to become actively mobile.

The Wijit just won United Cerebral Palsy’s 2014 Universal Accessibility Design Award for its empowering potential for users who are unable to push normal manual chairs. Watching one of the videos demonstrating how to use the Wijit on YouTube, it’s easy to see how the lever-based system could be a game changer for many chair users. Cranking levers instead of pushing takes a little bit of time to get used to, but it actually looks kinda fun — like cross country skiing. A slight pull inwards on the levers brakes, eliminating nasty skin burns and the danger of getting your fingers stuck in the spokes.

Brian Watwood designed the original Wijit after sustaining an incomplete C5-6 injury in a bike accident. “To be able to drive a wheelchair was impossible for me,” says Watwood. “I couldn’t feel it with my arms and hands.” He began selling a much-different version of the Wijit in 1997, and has been refining the product since then.

The Wijit is sold by Innovations Health Devices and is covered under many insurance plans, Medicare and Medicaid in many states. It is also available in some crazy styles.

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