According to statistics, there are around 1.2 million wheelchair users in the UK and around 2/3 consider themselves to be regular users. With this said, the average person does not know the history of wheelchairs or how they were invented and integrated into society. After all, they are incredibly easy to obtain in modern society and are found in abundance in hospitals. Read on as we briefly look into the history of the wheelchair…
Phillip II of Spain
Although the designer is unknown, the very first wheelchair made in Europe was created for King Phillip II of Spain in 1595. He wasn’t able to propel himself due to the weight of the contraption which means that he was typically pushed by servants. The chair had a wheel attached to each side, a back which could be adjusted and platform where the King would place his legs.
It was exactly 60 years later in 1655 when a German paraplegic designed the very first self-propelled wheelchair. Stephen Farffler, a 22-year-old watchmaker, created a contraption that functioned very much like the modern-day hand-bike that is used in wheelchair adapted cycling and it was extremely effective for the time.
The Invalid Carriage
The 18th century saw modern wheelchairs slowly begin to take shape. In 1783, a man by the name of John Dawson designed a chair which had two large wheels and one very small one. He dubbed it ‘The Invalid Carriage’, which wouldn’t be considered very politically correct today, and it was considered the most popular wheelchair for over 40 years. With this said, it was so heavy that it had to be pulled by donkeys or horses.
Over the years, wheelchair designs have become more and more advanced. In fact, the very first motorised chair was manufactured in London in 1916, however the product was not successful enough for commercial marketing. In addition to this, an engineer named Harry Jennings managed to design the first folding wheelchair in 1932 for Herbert Everest, his paraplegic friend. This was the very first wheelchair that bared even a slight resemblance to the modern-day chairs that we know and recognise today.
Here at Assurance Mobility, we want our customers to get the very best wheelchair that money can buy and that is why we take their history into consideration during our manufacturing process. After all, it is important that wheelchair technology continues to improve! To find out more information, get in contact with the best wheelchairs Oldham has to offer and speak to a member of the Assurance Mobility team today!