The hottest new option on the personal mobility front just got a lot hotter with the announcement that the FDA has cleared the new WHILL Model M as a medical device. This opens the door for doctors to prescribe the WHILL and for insurers like Medicare to cover it.
The futuristic Model A has been turning heads for a little over a year now, with its omnidirectional front wheels and Star Trek-ish design. But with no arm rests and limited customization, the Model A was never intended as a medical device. The Model M adds “arm supports, pressure relief handles, and different back support options” according to the company press release.
“FDA clearance of Model M represents a major milestone for our team and our customers in the US healthcare system,” says WHILL’s co-founder and CEO, Satoshi Sugie, in the release. “We look forward to working with physicians in the United States by providing them with new modern wheelchair option for their patients.”
I’ve talked with many Model A users and have heard almost all positive feedback. The one comment many made was that they wondered whether it would be an option for users with higher injuries or more mobility needs. It sounds like new Model M addresses some of those issues and expands the chair’s potential user base. Another option on the mobility marketplace — especially one that breaks the conventional thinking — can’t be anything but good.