Design and Testing of a Quick-Connect Wheelchair Power Add-On Unit

by Clark, Laura L.

Abstract (Summary)
A quick-connect wheelchair power add-on unit (PAU) has been developed at the Human Factors Engineering Center of Virginia Tech. The objective of the new invention is to provide an inexpensive, highly portable product which can quickly convert a manual wheelchair into a power-operated wheelchair. This dissertation details the three year research and design effort to develop the new wheelchair PAU. Results are presented from a series of evaluations conducted to identify performance and user-interaction characteristics of the PAU. Interpretation of the results provides a prioritized list of identified design deficiencies along with wheelchair expert and design team suggestions for the next generation of design alterations.

The three evaluations conducted with the second generation PAU prototype include a series of wheelchair expert interviews, a PAU performance evaluation, and a usability evaluation which utilized wheelchair operators as subjects. Also included in the dissertation is an explanation of the need for a new PAU, a description of the most recent design iteration, a literature review containing information about the history of wheelchairs, the condition of the current PAU market, and an analysis of wheelchair PAU consumers.

The new invention was conceived and patented by Dr. John G. Casali of the Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) Department at Virginia Tech. This research was supported jointly by Southwestern Applied Technologies, L. C., of Roanoke, Virginia and Virginia's Center for Innovative Technology in Herndon, Virginia.

Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:L. Thompson Hanes; Beverly A. Williges; Patrick C. Koelling; Robert C. Williges; John G. Casali

School:Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

School Location:USA - Virginia

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:industrial and systems engineering


Date of Publication:03/05/1998

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