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BYU Students Construct Affordable Motorized Wheelchair for Children

Mark A. Philbrick

Five Brigham Young University engineering students have built a lightweight and low cost motorized wheelchair for children with diseases such as muscular dystrophy.

The five mechanical engineering students created the chair as part of their engineering senior  project.

BYU senior Ian Freeman says within a few months, parents will be able buy the materials and assemble the wheelchair themselves using an instruction manual written by the students. “It weighs 20 pounds and it fits really nicely in about a quarter of your trunk space of a regular sedan,” he says.

Freeman says motorized pediatric wheelchairs can cost thousands of dollars, which can be difficult for parents to afford, especially with a growing child. He says the chair he and his peers have constructed is a low-cost solution. “With this wheelchair we’ve also made it so that it can grow with the child. So as your child grows, you just need to change out some of the PVC pieces to make the wheelchair bigger,” he says.

Right now the chair can support 50 pounds, which is about the weight of a six-year-old.  Freeman says all of the wheelchair parts cost less than $500. 

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