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BYU Students Develop Attachment To Turn Wheelchairs into Hand-trikes

Photo Credit: Nate Edwards/BYU

PROVO — A team of students at Brigham Young University have designed a special attachment for wheelchairs to help people travel greater distances with less effort.

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Creating the design was part of the student group’s capstone project, and was requested by the global wheelchair program within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint charities.

Larson said they asked students to solve some problems they were having with wheelchairs they’d distributed in humanitarian projects.

“LDS Charities asked the students to design and prototype a trike that is durable, maneuverable, multi-geared to handle varied terrain and built with parts that are easily replaceable,” The University said in a press release.

BYU students test out the hand-trike.
Photo Credit:
Nate Edwards/BYU Photo

“You’re trying to put everything to control it at the hand level so you can control everything with your hands and upper body strength,” said Ryan Larson, a mechanical engineering student and the team lead. “Like a bike. Taking what you would have at your feet and handlebars and integrating it into one system up there for easy access.”

Larson said having the steering, pedaling and braking all at hand level makes it possible for people to go several miles in their chair with much less effort.

“It has a system of four attachment arms. Those reach out and are attached via pins to clamps. Those go on the front of the wheelchair frame,” he said.

Photo Credit: Nate Edwards/BYU

Larson said their final prototype will be picked up this week and sent to a factory. They hope to begin distributing the attachments by the end of the year.

“It’s really rewarding being able to use the skill that you’ve gained to do something that directly helps people,” Larson said.