GEN_1 Design Wheelchair
Free Wheelchair Mission, Don Schoendorfer
GEN_1 Design Wheelchair is a durable wheelchair designed for use in rugged terrain.
The GEN_1 Design is a one-size-fits-all multipurpose wheelchair designed for use in rugged terrain. It provides basic motility to a wide range of users and is generally recommended for those who do not need adjustments to the wheelchair to aid postural support. The GEN_1 Design is designed and manufactured under Free Wheelchair Mission (FWM).
The wheelchairs have been distributed in 93 countries.
Free Wheelchair Mission works in collaboration with other charitable organizations acting as local distribution partners.
The cost is borne by FWM and local distribution partners. Wheelchairs are distributed free of cost to beneficiaries.
Rough Rider Wheelchair (Whirlwind Wheelchair International), Rough Terrain Wheelchair (Motivation UK), Leveraged Freedom Chair (GRIT), ROC Wheels (Reach Out and Care). Here is a complete list of organizations distributing wheelchairs in the developing world (their own design and/or second-hand).
Goal 3: Good health and well-being
Physically disabled persons in low- and middle-income countries. Eligibility criteria to qualify for a free wheelchair can be found on the designer’s website.
Wheelchair kits are mass produced, shipped from the factory by the container and assembled by pre-approved distribution partners in recipient countries. Each container contains 550 wheelchairs ready for assembly with 50 toolkits (11 wheelchairs can be assembled with one toolkit). Assembly takes 15 minutes and all tools required are provided in the container.
Local distribution partners are responsible for locating qualified beneficiaries. Over 1,000,000 wheelchairs have been distributed in 93 countries around the world (as of July 2020). Charitable organizations around the world may request a minimum order of 550 wheelchairs, which they must then assemble and distribute in their local region.
Over 1,000,000 wheelchairs have been distributed in 93 countries around the world as of July 2020.
– 35 lb (16 kg)
– conventional 4-wheel design
– 8” x 1” front casters
– 24” x 1.95” mountain bike rear tires
– brakes on both rear wheels
– rigid, non-folding steel frame
– polypropylene resin chair (virgin resin) + UV stabilizer
– adjustable leg-length footrest
– a 3 cm thick urethane foam cushion
– a hand air pump and patch kit fixed to the frame
– a 5 strap adjustable harness for children and adults as needed
– nylon insert stay-tight nuts
– Approximate resin chair dimensions (based on commercially available chair): 31″”h x 20″”w x 22″”d
– Rated to hold up to 90 kg (198 lbs)
GEN_1 video is available by clicking here.
Assembly guide is available online.
Distribution partners are trained by FWM through the “Leading Partner Program” to properly prescribe and fit wheelchairs as well as train recipients how to better care for themselves and their wheelchair.
Recipients all receive a manual with their wheelchair that covers proper use and maintenance. A training video is also shown to recipients (when a video cannot be shown, a live demonstration is given).
FWM promotes that their wheelchair was designed to be repaired by replacement parts that are readily available around the world. Manuals are distributed with each chair that inform recipients that they can contact the distributing partner for repair assistance.
In a report FWM provided USAID (2010) there is data from a survey distributed to recipients of FWM wheelchairs that touched upon repair and support issues. That report can be found here.
No disposal protocol information readily available. Designed to last 3-5 years.
Functional on rough terrain; easily repairable; composed of readily available components for simple repair around the world; affordable in developing country contexts.
Dr. Susan Shore’s field study, which surveyed recipients of FWM wheelchairs in India and Peru found: 28% of FWM recipients reported a repair at some time during use (average 18 months); 19.7% reported tire problems; most common maintenance problem reported was with the wheels (6.4% front, 13.3% back) including ﬂat tires or difﬁculty with the valves; 2.7% reported problems with the resin chair; 62.2% of recipients were able to use the chair independently for mobility (all others were transported in the chair by family members or friends); 6.9% reported using their chair less than 1 hour/day, 46.3% used it 1–4 hours/day, and 46.8% used their chair more than 4 hours/day, 11.7% reported using their chair more than 8 hours/day.
Regular durability testing takes place at manufacturing facility: 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of weight for 200,000 cycles on a ISO standard double drum tester for a month.
Dr. Susan Shore from Azusa Pacific University’s Department of Physical Therapy assessed the impact of FWM wheelchairs on recipients in India and Peru
GEN_1 version of FWM wheelchair is one size and thus does not allow for individual fitting to accommodate children or individuals with varying disabilities. A wheelchair that is not properly fit to the needs of an individual user can result in discomfort or injury (such as scoliosis or pressure sores) due to insufficient support or improper cushioning. There is also a risk of tipping while using a wheelchair.
FMC has two other upgraded version GEN2 and GEN3 on their website.
Shore SL. Use of an economical wheelchair in India and Peru: impact on health and function. Med Sci Monit. 2008;14(12):PH71-PH79.
Shore S. The long-term impact of wheelchair delivery on the lives of people with disabilities in three countries of the world. Afr J Disabil. 2017;6:344. Published 2017 Sep 8. doi:10.4102/ajod.v6i0.344
Guidelines on the Provision of Manual Wheelchairs in Less Resourced Settings. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2008. 2, DESIGN AND PRODUCTION. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK143784/
Shore S., Kovic M., THE COMPARISON OF HEALTH AND FUNCTION OUTCOMES FOLLOWING USE OF A DEPOT STYLE WHEELCHAIR VERSUS ONE WITH A CUSTOMIZED FIT, RESNA Annual Conference, 2014.
The FWM GEN_1 wheelchair is subjected to the International Organization of Standards (ISO) double-drum test. It uses 100 kilograms of weight for 200,000 cycles on an ISO standard double drum tester for a month. The test is estimated to simulate the stress a wheelchair would be subjected to over five years of use in a developing country.
FWM has won dozens of awards for their wheelchair distribution work.
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