Ultra Long Distance Wheelchair Is A Stylish, Lightweight Design That Will Go The Distance
Modern athletes have come to expect top-notch function in their athletic equipment. They also expect a bit of style, and often choose equipment, equal in function, based on personal style alone. However, disabled athletes have limited options when it comes to choosing their equipment. Designer Andrew Mitchell conceptualized the Ultra Long Distance Wheelchair with both function and style in mind.
Designer & Vision
Andrew Mitchell is an industrial designer, who works for Phillips Healthcare Design in the United Kingdom. His background is in medical, transport, FMCG and consumer products with a special interest in products that improve the quality of life for people.
The Ultra Long Distance Wheelchair is a concept that falls into his "people-centric" vision and into his background in the transport and medical arenas. At this stage, it is purely a concept. Mitchell hopes to provide a "questioning look" at the equipment available to disabled athletes.
What that "questioning look" will ultimately address is the narrow market for disabled athletes' equipment, the lack of variety and the lack of style. Just plug in "racing wheelchair" into the search bar on Amazon and look at the absence of any racing wheelchair. Then plug in "bike" or "bicycle" or any other bike related term, and you are flooded with bicycle options.
Ultra Long Distance Wheelchair V. Traditional Design
After the World Wars, in 1944, Sir Ludwig Guttmann, of the Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury, England, started utelizing competitive sports as a part of the rehibilitation of injured veterans. In 1952, the first international wheelchair races were held.
There are a ton of rules and regulations for racing wheelchairs, and just about all racing wheelchairs look the same. Check out the photo below of a traditional racing wheelchair.
With his Ultra Long Distance Wheelchair, Mitchell seeks to offer a design that is optimal for performance over distances while giving the rider the most comfort possible. The Ultra Long Distance Wheelchair would have a carbon fiber frame, as opposed to the aluminum frames used in traditional racing wheelchairs, with a chassis composed of two parts--the outer and the swing arm. It would have adjustable suspension to suit any sort of road surface.
In the Ultra Long Distance Wheelchair, the rider will sit in a hammock that is suspended from the frame. This hammock will give a variety of seating options for the rider to accommodate specific needs. This feature will also give the rider added suspension that will separate them from the jarring of the frame experienced in traditional racing wheelchairs.
Perhaps the coolest thing about the Ultra Long Distance Wheelchair is its sleek and stylish shape. Mitchell sites the well documented psychological effect that the appearance of sports equipment has on performance. When an athlete feels good about the way her equipment looks, she tends to perform better. In the Ultra Long Distance Wheelchair, the athlete will definitely look good.
As I've mentioned, the Ultra Long Distance Wheelchair is in its conceptual stages. It could, of course, become an actual product eventually, but even in this stage it may well inspire other, more functional and better looking racing wheelchairs designs.