GEN_1 Design Wheelchair
Free Wheelchair Mission, Don Schoendorfer
Free Wheelchair Mission, GEN_1 Design is a one-size-fits-all multipurpose wheelchair designed for use in rugged terrain.
Countries: Vietnam, India, China, Peru, Chile.
Free Wheelchair Mission in collaboration with other charitable organizations acting as local distribution partners.
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: to improve and promote good health.
Physically disabled in developing countries. FWM lists the following as criteria for selecting wheelchair recipients that distribution partners must agree to: a) The physical condition of the individual prevents him or her from walking at this time; b). The individual cannot afford to buy a wheelchair due to poverty; c) The individual is not in possession of a wheelchair; d) The individual is believed by the Distributor, and the family or personal friends of the individual interviewed by the Distributor’s representatives, to be physically and mentally capable of using and benefiting from the wheelchair; and e) The individual has sufficient support from relatives or friends so that assistance is available to the individual with respect to his or her use of the wheelchair.
Wheelchair kits are mass produced, individual wheelchairs are hand assembled.
Local distribution partners are responsible for locating qualified beneficiaries. 753,000 wheelchairs have been distributed in 91 countries around the world (as of June 2014). Wheelchairs shipped in FY12 were equal to 68,200 (this includes GEN_2 chairs)Charitable organizations around the world may request a minimum order of 550 wheelchairs, which they must then assemble and distribute in their local region.
753,000 wheelchairs have been distributed in 91 countries around the world.
– 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
GEN_1 video is available by clicking here.
– FWM provides a training video for distribution partners to watch:
– Use: 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 ﬂ at tires or difﬁ culty 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 (announced to be coming out in 2015) on their website.
Use of an economical wheelchair in India and Peru: impact on health and function. Shore SL. Med Sci Monit. 2008 Dec;14(12):PH71-9.
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.
GEN_3 version is announced to be coming out in 2015 on their website.
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