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Who Invented The Wheelchair?

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Even though no one knows exactly when the first wheelchair was invented, there are some findings that suggest a wheelchair or at least vehicles or vessels that resemble a wheelchair are older than we think. According to some sources, predecessors of what we use today as a wheelchair were used back in the ancient times and namely the greek vase at around 525 BC and in China around the 6th century. These ancient versions were reportedly made of metal and were primarily used as means of transportation.


However, the first wheelchair that was used for helping the disabled, was invented in Spain around 1595 and was called as the “invalid’s chair” indicating its usage for disability. This version was originally made out of wood and was intended for King Philip II of Spain. The wheelchair couldn't move on its own using hand gestures as more up-to-date versions and thus, the king had to order his servants to help him move. However, it still had armrests and leg rests.


Around a century later and in 1655, Steven Farffler, a 22-year old German watchmaker that was suffering from partial paraplegia, has invented and worked on the first wheelchair that could move independently. This was a quite sturdy chair attached on a 3-wheel chassis with integrated handles on each side to propel itself.


In around 1787 in England, Sir John Dawson of Bath, had invented a wheelchair and called it after its town of origin “chair of the bath”. This type of wheelchair was made of two big wheels towards the back and one smaller one towards the front side. The person would propel the chair by a fixed handle, however, all the Bath models had to get pulled or pushed back by a horse or donkey as due to their dense metal structure, they were really weighty. The Bath chair become a best-selling model in the UK over the following 40 years since its invention and launch in the English market.


Towards the 18th century, additional and more upgraded wheelchair models were created, resembling better the versions that we use today in terms of structure and mobility. In 1869, a patent came up to launch a new wheelchair model that could propel itself and was distinguished by its large wheels in the backside. Around a century ago and specifically in 1919, there was a folding wheelchair model developed by Harry Jennings, made of tubular steel. After teaming up with one of his friends named Everest, he founded a company after their names called “Everest and Jennings” company.

The emergence of more lightweight wheelchair models was a matter of time, and various models resurfaced in-between to get to what we know as today the lightweight portable wheelchair and the folding wheelchair, allowing more flexibility and mobility across various spaces. Some earlier versions of the 19th and 20th century were made out of Indian reed, which is the lightest material used for making the basis of the chair up to date, but with today’s modern material manipulation and engineering, wheelchair models are both sturdy and lightweight at the same time. In the majority of modern models, a mix of metals and rubber is used for this purpose.  


With the science development, the portable electric folding wheelchair has been popular in the world as tool for riding instead of walk. We are the the manufacturer of electric wheelchair, we have the design patent of wheelchair, so no matter you need a wheelchair as a single man or you are a distributor who want to have a good business partner, welcome to contact us.


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