The History of Self-Propelled Wheelchairs

Wheelchairs have been around for a long time, and they are arguably one of the most helpful inventions in history. That also leads to questions like how long have wheelchairs been around and who invented the wheelchair.

Who Invented the Wheelchair?

Self-propelled wheelchairs are not new, although they look far different today than they did all those years ago when the first concept of the wheelchair was realized. The earliest records give the Chinese credit for the concept of the first wheelchair. That also dates back to the 5th century.

Believe it or not, those first concepts of a wheelchair looked very much like wheelbarrows until the 12th century. Fast forward to 1655, and history records the inventor of the first self-propelled wheelchair, Stephan Farfler of Germany.

This first self-propelled wheelchair was akin to a tricycle. The wheelchair frame sat on a three-wheel chassis. The front wheel was geared to a cogwheel and crank system. The chair was propelled via a crank handle. A lot has happened between now and then, and the wheelchair has come a long way.

Wheelchair Advancements 

The more common ‘X-frame’ folding wheelchair was introduced in the 1930s. During the 1950s, the motorized wheelchair was created to focus on the many military veterans needing such a device. These wheelchairs also came with more rigid frames and became the standard-bearer.

The advent of technology has enabled many more control options, in addition to power controls and even comfort adjustments. Today, people can get the most elaborate to the most basic self-propelled wheelchairs at most medical equipment providers.

Wheelchairs today, from the comfort and motorized options to even the look and design, look nothing like the original concept. That is not only an advancement in medical equipment that makes sense, but also makes a real difference.

Wheelchairs and Equipment for Everyone

If you are looking for medical equipment like wheelchairs, look no further than Penn York Medical. Established in 1957, Penn York Medical sells and services home medical equipment for individuals throughout Binghamton, NY, and the surrounding areas, including northern PA.

Feel free to stop by and see our showroom, where our expert staff members will demonstrate the functionality of any product we stock. It is important to us that you have a clear idea of what you are buying. At Penn York Medical, we want you to get the products you need to improve your quality of life. Visit us to find the perfect equipment for you today!