By Staff | 3ders
It is estimated that about 1% of the total population or 10% of the disabled population need wheelchairs, i.e. about 65 million people worldwide, according to World Health Organization. Out of this number, about 20 million of those requiring a wheelchair for mobility do not have access to them, and 25% are CHILDREN around the world.
Israeli non-profit organization 'Wheelchairs of Hope' wants to change this. They are designing the world's first affordable wheelchair built especially for kids, with the help of 3D printing. The proejct is backed by the UN, the World Health Organization (WHO) and two Nobel Prize winners Aaron Ciechanover of Israel and Sir Richard Roberts of the UK.
Having spent more than 30 years in the plastics industry, Pablo Kaplan, co-creator of the project, wants to implement his knowledge in the industry to make affordable and child-oriented wheelchairs for the disabled. Kaplan and his partner Chava Rothstein, has teamed up with Israel's Ziv-Av Engineering and Nekuda Design Management to work on this children's wheelchair.
"The problem with today's standard wheelchair is that it is not designed with kids in mind," says Kaplan. "The current wheelchairs available for kids are merely adult wheelchairs, just reduced in size. Moreover, the look of these wheelchairs is as appealing to a kid as a plate of broccoli. A vital piece of medical equipment, a wheelchair that is both practical and appealing for kids could make all the difference."
The goal is to "provide proper fit and postural support & to meet the most common needs of disabled children aging 5 – 9," notes the project. In just six months after initiating the project, they have come up a lightweight and kid-friendly wheelchair that costs only $100. The prototype was designed with kids in mind and created using a 3D printer.
"We wanted to see the chair with actual patients to see how it would perform on both an emotional level and technical level," Kaplan says. "The results at ALYN Rehabilitation were fabulous. It was very emotional for us because when the children moved from a traditional chair to ours, they didn't want to give it back! Parents wanted to buy it on the spot."
With the help of the WHO, Wheelchairs of Hope signed up with three regions in Israel, Tajikistan and Palestinian as future production sites. For now, Wheelchairs of Hope is looking for angel investors to speed up their process of creating the wheelchairs. Their long term goal is to produce one million children's chairs in next seven years, and guarantee shipment of their chairs to anywhere in the world for $100.
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