South African man designs a wheelchair which can take on stairs

South African man designs a wheelchair which can take on stairs

The design is expected to become a gamechanger for users in spaces where ramps aren’t available.

Wheelchair doctor

The WheelChair Doctor, founded by Ernest Majenge, has created a wheelchair that will help people with disabilities get access to more buildings and places than ever before, thanks to a unique design that will help the product manoeuvre stairs easily.

Ernest admits that he wanted to create a design that will help people with disabilities to make use of stairs in places where ramps are not available.

Unfortunately, while some buildings around the country are wheelchair friendly, the reality is that many still are not and rural areas remain problematic for those in wheelchairs to get around. Ernest wanted to find a way to bypass these hinderances.

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Ernest’s innovation first made waves in 2020 when it was featured at the SA Innovation Summit Inventors Garage. “We developed unique devices so that PRM can go up and down stairs while seated in a wheelchair, with an assistant who maintain the balance,” Ernest says. “The concept is based on wheels that are either circular when rolling, and that we transform into segmented wheels only when going up stairs. The PRM contributes to the propulsion by pulling on small handles fixed on each wheel.” 

After seeing the struggle many face living in wheelchairs and, particularly children in wheelchairs which should have been retired a long time ago, Ernest started exploring ways to make their lives easier.

He started working on a prototype wheelchair that would have the ability to traverse stairs. After lots of hard work, he perfected the prototype and started searching for an investor. The process proved difficult but ultimately, Ernest found an investor in France willing to assist.

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He set up a warehouse in Soweto and currently employs four people to manufacture the game-changing wheelchair and they have already received a few orders.

“It has been hard but we are making progress,” Ernest says. “And with every order we see a brighter future and believe that the innovation will just get better. I could not get anyone to believe in this and I did not believe it would even get this far. I knocked on every door you can imagine.”

Wheelchair doctor

He adds: “There is no other wheelchair like this… it’s proudly South African. I have patented it and we are coming up with more wheelchairs for different scenarios and areas, such as beaches, schools and old age homes, among others.”

Follow Ernest’s journey on Facebook here.

Image courtesy: The Wheelchair Doctor

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