International Wheelchair Day

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March 1st, is not only a new month but also an international wheelchair day, since its launch in 2008, the day is celebrated yearly to mark the positive impact a wheelchair has on users.

The day was launched by a wheelchair user and prominent accessibility and disability rights campaigner Steve Wilkinson, commonly known as Wheelchair Steve, as explained by Jemima Kutata, APDK resource Manager at Bombolulu wheelchair workshop in Mombasa, during celebrations to mark the day, Steve wanted to make the world a more accessible place by persons with disabilities because he was born with Spina Bifida and used a wheelchair for most of his life.

The purpose of the wheelchair is for Independence by individuals with disabilities, therefore, there is a need for the production of more affordable wheelchairs in the country.

Wheelchairs are not only used by Persons With Disabilities but also people who have walking difficulties due to illnesses, age, or injuries. In 1933 Harry C. Jennings, Sr., and his disabled friend Herbert Everest, both mechanical engineers, invented the first lightweight, steel, folding, portable wheelchair. Everest had previously broken his back in a mining accident and had to use a wheelchair. 

Everest and Jennings saw the business potential of the invention and went on to become the first mass-market manufacturers of wheelchairs which are commonly in use today, they come in different models depending on the user’s choice.

A common manual wheelchair usually has a frame, seat, one or two footplates, four wheels, two caster wheels at the front, and two large wheels at the back. The manual wheelchair also has varieties whereby it can be folded or those which are rigid.

Folding wheelchairs are generally easily stored by bringing the two sides together while rigid wheelchairs have permanently welded joints and many fewer moving parts which helps reduce the energy required to push the chair by eliminating many points where the chair would flex and absorb energy as it moves.

On the other hand, an electric-powered wheelchair, commonly called a “powerchair” is a wheelchair that incorporates batteries and electric motors into the frame and that is controlled by either the user or a caregiver.

Factors to be considered before purchasing a wheelchair include; the user’s body size and shape, children and adults need different sizes of wheelchairs as well as people with buildup bodies, that’s why it’s advisable to go with wheelchair pros.

The reason you are using the wheelchair is also an important factor, it relates to your strength to either use an electric or a manual wheelchair and finally, specific activities that a person engages in on a daily basis will impact a person’s buying decision.

Therefore, as we celebrate this day let’s understand that there is an amazing freedom wheelchair brings to the PWDs.

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