Up to 78 per cent of wheelchair users experience repetitive strain injuries in their shoulders, wrists and elbows simply from pushing their chair. The Redliner may be able to help change this.
The Redliner is strapped to the spokes or hubcap of a manual chair, measures the wheel rotations, and then estimates the amount of force put into each stroke. The feedback is relayed to the user’s cellphone so they can see how many pushes they put in, stroke length, the rolling resistance their chair is facing, how far they’ve gone and the number of what the inventor calls “redliner events.”
“It’s like your car. If you’re over-revving your car, then you’re redlining it and if you keep that up for too long, you damage the engine,” says Martin Ferguson-Pell, professor of rehabilitation medicine at the University of Alberta and the inventor of the Redliner. “We thought, ‘Well, when people are pushing their wheelchair, if they could stay under the exertion level that’s likely to produce injury, we might be able to reduce the problem to some degree. The question was how could we provide that feedback to wheelchair users.”
The Redliner also could help make the case for funding a power wheelchair. “If someone is consistently over-exerting and placing their upper-extremities at significant risk, the Redliner can strengthen their case for funding in order to get something like a power-assisted chair,” says Ferguson-Pell.
And since it’s data-driven, the Redliner could also bolster wheelchair users’ requests for more accessible work environments. “For example, it will be able to tell you the barriers I’m facing are in the office because there’s thick carpet in the office, which makes it difficult to push the wheelchair, so we can either remove the carpet or we can provide someone with a power-assisted device to remove the barrier of getting around on the carpet,” says Ferguson-Pell.
In the next month, David Evans, president of Redliner Inc., will be talking to major wheelchair manufacturers about the possibility of having it installed as original equipment. The production model is being made as of this article’s publication.
“We anticipate going into production in February or March 2017 and it should retail for $200 Canadian,” says Evans. That’s $151 in American dollars, comparable to the price of a Fitbit.