Three-year-old Tanner Jensen and his 20-month-old brother Skyler were both born with a rare genetic condition that you have probably never heard of. It is called Spinal Muscular Atrophy and it means they can’t walk or crawl. They can’t even control their heads, or even lift up their arms. A group of engineering students at Brigham Young University have come to the rescue, and are helping the Jensen brothers improve their mobility.
The five undergraduate mechanical engineering students from BYU’s Engineering Capstone program took it upon themselves to build the world’s lightest and least expensive electric wheelchairs. Motorized wheelchairs for younger children already exist, but they cost a small fortune – some costing $15,000(USD) and up. Obviously many families can’t afford them at those prices. They also are typically quite heavy and hard to move around. The student’s design weighs just about 20 pounds.
Each chair is made from PVC tubing and is strong enough for a child of up to 50 pounds or about 6 years old. They made the chair for under $495(USD), and will also be posting the plans online for anyone who wants to build one for their child.
These students are awesome. It just goes to show you, you can make affordable things for those in need if you really want to.