Imperial students innovate to improve wheelchair safety

A self-righting device has been created by a group of Bioengineering students at Imperial College London to enhance wheelchairs.

The gadget, which was created by Bianca De Blasi, Simone Castagno and Jacqueline Beddoe-Rosendo, is said to be useful when playing wheelchair sports.

The creators of the device said: “as well as helping athletes with different levels of disability to self-right, it’s relatively lightweight, cheap, easy to use and replaceable.”

“It can also be fitted on a wide range of basketball wheelchairs with minor modifications to the chair. Most importantly, the device complies with wheelchair basketball regulations.”

The product is designed to improve sports games, as players can bring themselves to the upright position when they tip over without needing someone to run on to the court to assist them.

The idea to make such an invention came from a challenge that they had to take part in.

“As part of a larger group, we were given this problem for the Rio Tinto Sports Innovation Challenge during our second year. After a lot of research and talking with different athletes, we developed an initial prototype. The three of us believed that our device had a lot of potential, so we decided to improve the previous prototype,” said De Blasi

The product was tested by the London Titans wheelchair basketball team. “They were very enthusiastic about it and positive about using it in actual competitive games,” De Blasi added.

The inventors of the self-righting device believe that the weight of the device might be a problem. “Although the device is relatively lightweight, weight may still be an issue. However this can easily be fixed by changing the dimensions of the device or the material of the main body,” say the students.

To make the invention available to everyone the students have decided to give their creation to companies for free, so that the device can be attached to wheelchairs during the manufacturing process.

The creators are contacting manufacturers at the moment to make them aware of their product.