With more than 3.3 million Americans using wheelchairs and another two million new users added each year, the wheelchair industry is thriving. So much so that the industry for manual wheelchairs is estimated to reach $2.9 billion by the year 2018, and new products are coming out all the time. Recently, an old press release about a pedal wheelchair that can help stroke victims walk again has been making the rounds online. But do these claims really check out?
To help patients who have suffered from strokes rehabilitate, a chiropractic office in Kansas City is taking a new approach using special Japanese wheelchairs.
Cogy, designed by Japanese engineers, is a brand of pedal wheelchairs that are used to help rehabilitate leg muscles while allowing patients to get from one place to another. Unlike most wheelchairs, the Cogi actually requires the use of your legs. According to the press release, some patients, like 68-year old Fred Franzen, are already pleased with their results.
“Before the chair, my legs were weak. I could not walk or balance myself. With this chair, I can get up and walk by myself with a cane,” said Franzen.
The former tennis coach suffered a massive stroke three years ago and was told that due to the severity of his stroke, his condition would never improve. After receiving electro-acupuncture treatments to regain some feeling in his leg, he became one of the first customers of the chair.
Still, saying that this pedal wheelchair can help stroke victims walk again sounds like a major exaggeration, and so far it’s only available in one city. And of course, pedal wheelchairs usually aren’t a practical choice for long-term wheelchair users.
What are pedal wheelchairs?
While most people think of power wheelchairs when they think of high quality seating or geriatric chairs for the elderly, pedal wheelchairs are helpful for people who can still use their legs. Similar to most manual wheelchairs, these wheelchairs have two large wheels, one on each side. The difference is that the wheels are connected to a smaller directional wheel located in the front. The user controls the wheels using foot pedals located near the directional wheel in front.
These types of wheelchairs are great for those who are paralyzed on one side or want to get exercise while remaining in their chair. The reason for this is that both the healthy limbs and hemiplegic lower limbs cooperate in order to move the wheelchair. Once a patient becomes comfortable, they can go at a walking pace.
With innovations such as pedal wheelchairs, the elderly and others with disabilities or issues with mobility will be able to live more independently. They are best recommended for those who have paralysis on one side or slight to extreme mobility issues.
Talk to your doctor about pedal-style wheelchairs to find out if it’s the right choice for you.