Since the beginning of time, there has always been a need for a way to transport someone with mobility issues. These early people either got hurt in a hunting accident, they are showing signs of age and just can’t keep up with the group, or they may have been born with a condition. Thus, a way to transport them easily has been sought. One early way was to pull them along on a travois of sorts, but that could be burdensome over long distances, not to mention uncomfortable for the person as they bounced around over the terrain. Thus, once the wheel was invented, it didn’t take long for other applications to come along, including wheelchairs.
Able Care Group offers the best wheelchair ramps, chair lifts, elevators, and platform lifts for those with mobility issues. We’ve been helping people who need it in the New Jersey area for over 30 years. Our family-owned business loves to help people have an easier life. Below, we’ll take a look at the history of the wheelchair, and contact us today for your wheelchair ramp!
HISTORY OF WHEELCHAIRS
While the first known wheelchair ever invented probably will never be known, we do know that other wheeled inventions were used for transporting the disabled. The ancient Greeks used their chariots as wheeled beds to transport those who couldn’t walk. China we know used wheelbarrows to transport the disabled beginning around the second century AD. There is archaeological evidence of a wheelchair in use in China around 525 AD. It’s an inscription on a stone slate.
During the Middle Ages, or the Dark Ages, life was pretty dark with no innovation in terms of mobility for those who suffered from impairments. Luckily, humanity woke up again and decided to make improvements in the world. Of course, it always helps that a royal needs help (Henry VIII had the first stair lift commissioned), which is exactly what happened again with the wheelchair. This time, it was King Philip II of Spain. He suffered from gout and had difficulty walking so a chair was invented for him in 1595 that had wheels and could be pushed around.
The first self-propelled wheelchair was invented in 1665 by a German watchmaker who was a paraplegic. It had three wheels and was powered by a hand crank. In 1750, a chair was invented in England that could be pushed around as well, but it was much less elaborate than King Philip’s. In 1783, another Englishman in Bath invented a chair similar to the watchmaker’s. It had two large wheels on the side and a small wheel on the front, similar to modern day hand cycles for athletes. It was invented for those with mobility issues. Bath with its spa waters was a place where many disabled people congregated in hope that drinking from the spa waters and bathing in them would help their condition.
Improvements continued to be made on this “Bath Chair” (it was invented in the town of Bath, England). Lightweight materials were experimented with, including Indian reed, which helped for both pushing it and in transporting it. Reclining backs and adjustable foot rests were added.
By the late 1800s, what we know today as wheelchairs took shape. The front small wheel was ditched so it would be easier to have your feet in front and maintain a sitting position. Hollow rubber wheels were added to replace the ones on the sides, and in 1881, push rims were invented for easier self-propulsion. This was great timing because after the Civil War and other wars to follow, there were a lot of injuries requiring wheelchairs.
In 1916, a small motor was added to wheelchairs, and once cars came along the first folding, tubular steel wheelchair was invented so they could collapse and be transported in a car in 1932. Improvements, once again, skyrocketed with the modern age, with a power drive added on and electric drives. One fun fact was when electric wheelchairs first came out, they were called electric chairs until marketers realized they were truly advertising a method of execution.
Aluminum was introduced for the framing to make them ultralight, and joysticks were added for those who had upper mobility issues as well. Head sticks or sip and puff devices help quadriplegics lead a life of relative independence, and with the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, most businesses are now wheelchair accessible with a wheelchair ramp.
No one knows what the future holds for wheelchairs. Many predict that wheelchairs will be able to be controlled by electric impulses from your brain just like your muscles are today. The future is definitely bright for those suffering from mobility issues.
CHOOSE ABLE CARE GROUP FOR ALL OF YOUR MOBILITY NEEDS
Able Care Group has dedicated the last 30 years to helping those suffering from disabilities, temporary injuries, or showing the signs of aging in New Jersey have access to the tools they need to lead a near-normal life and stay in their homes where they are comfortable. We offer chair lifts, wheelchair ramps, vertical platform lifts, and elevators.
From curved stairlifts to commercial and residential ramps, we have a lift that will fit your specific needs. We offer fast evaluations once you call us, so we’ll come out to your home or office as quickly as possible. Here, we will not only evaluate your home and make a recommendation on which product or products we think will suit you and your needs the best, but we’ll answer all of your questions and get you set up for an installation. We offer a 72-hour installation guarantee on all of our ramps, chair lifts, and platform lifts. In addition, we offer 0% financing for six months to those that qualify. We also offer pre-owned chair lifts and ramps for sale, and you can rent one of our stairlifts or ramps if you will only be needing it for a short period of time.
With our experience and know-how, our friendly and professional staff can have your stairlift installed in no time and your life back on track (pun intended). Call today for an appointment!