Frazer-Nash has partnered with University College London (UCL) and the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Trust (RNOH) to study how wheelchair users use their arms. They’ve built a special wheelchair that can detect the force applied to the wheels and the plan is to use the device to develop new designs that help prevent repetitive rotator cuff damage and other upper extremity problems.
The wheelchair prototype is based on a previous design called the Powerwheel, which was developed by Frazer-Nash for UK Sport as a training device to improve the performance of Paralympic athletes. Frazer-Nash is working with the RNOH, led by Dr Simon Grange, to understand the needs of NHS wheelchair users and adapt the Powerwheel’s design principles. Innovations such as integrating spoked rather than carbon fibre racing wheels means that the prototype can be used to benefit the rehabilitation and training needs of NHS patients, minimising secondary injuries. Mr Peter Smitham (UCL) will supervise the clinical study at RNOH in collaborating with Frazer-Nash.
The new wheel design, which is currently undergoing trials at UCL’s PAMELA centre, is fully instrumented and provides real time feedback to the researcher on indicators such as the user’s push force. Frazer-Nash and UCL are collaborating on this research project to investigate the correlation between muscle activity in the shoulder with the push profile exerted by the wheelchair user. It is hoped that this will provide information on the levels of force and specific manoeuvres that could lead to potential damage to the shoulder.