Lightest and Least Expensive Electric Wheelchair For Children

Tanner Jensen in his wheelchair made out of PVC pipes by undergraduate students at Briigham Young University
Tanner Jensen and Skyler Jensen, aged 3 years and 20 months, are two brothers who like to play with each other and do silly things, just like other kids their age. However, because of a rare genetic condition they both have (Spinal Muscular Atrophy), they find it hard to crawl, walk, or control their body movements. 
The boys do have manual chairs but maneuvering in them is not easy. Also, since their condition affects their muscles, they get tired very quickly. They could get electric chairs but the biggest hurdle in getting them is that they are extremely expensive (approximately $15,000), and the Jensen family needs two of these. Since those chairs are big and bulky, they need special lifts that can be attached to vehicles so they could be transported. This lift obviously adds extra cost to the entire setup.
Student team member working on the wheelchair
This is where a group of undergraduates came into the picture. As a part of their capstone project, students from Brigham Young University designed an open source electric chair for the Jensen Boys that is made out of PVC pipes. What that really means is that the chair can be easily assembled by anyone, is extremely light, weighing just over 20 pounds, and is strong enough for a child up to 50 pounds in weight (think a 6 year old child). Since it is made up of removable parts, it can be easily modified and readjusted to accommodate the boys’ growth. It is controlled by a joystick that is mounted on its arm rest. It is so light and compact that it can fit in the back of a sedan trunk.
This chair cost the team less than $495 to make!
This chair can bring huge benefit to the Jensen boys – they can now play around and explore their surroundings by going long distances  and up and down slopes without getting tired.
Watch the following video to see how the students worked with the Jensen family, and the work and thought process that went into making it a reality.
The team is planning to make this wheelchair’s parts available to anyone around the world. The members will be posting updates to the “Open Wheelchair” project on its website.

Source: Brigham Young University via Gizmodo

Open Wheelchair Foundation Website

Read about Spinal Muscular Atrophy


  1. This is great. I know that I wish we could all have the nicest things for our kids but price is an issue. I think that having such a great option for a low budget can be beneficial especially when kids are going to outgrow the wheelchair.

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