ChairStairs: An AT device for independent wheelchair-to-ground transfers

*Second prize


*Second prize (2017 RESNA Student Design Competition)

Abilee Kellett & Justin Turner (University of British Columbia)

As a part of daily life, wheelchair users must transfer between surfaces – either independently or with help from others. Most consideration of transfers in research and clinical applications, such as assistive technology (AT) devices, has focused on similar-height transfers; however, wheelchair-to-ground transfers are also important in the lives of many, such as parents of small children or practitioners of yoga. At this time, no AT device has been designed to facilitate wheelchair-to-ground transfers that can be used entirely independently and in any environment; our solution, ChairStairs, adapt the pantographical scissor step design often found on recreational vehicles to meet this need. ChairStairs are made with lightweight and durable materials, easily adjust in height, and quickly fold into a compact configuration under the wheelchair when not being used. When the user would like to transfer from wheelchair to ground, they manually deploy the ChairStairs and transition down the steps one at a time; to get back into the wheelchair, the user follows the same procedure in reverse order. Although we have yet to conduct outcomes testing, we envision both short- and long-term benefits of this AT device, such as enabling wheelchair users to engage in meaningful occupations that may be otherwise inaccessible, facilitating independence and autonomy while minimizing risks of injury, and possibly even leading to deeper social connectedness, decreased stress, and relief of pressure.

RESNA Design Brief


team membersAbilee Kellett & Justin Turner won second prize in the 2017 RESNA Student Design Competition. Judges’ comments included:

  • Simple and clever application of existing technology for a new use 
  • Potential to improve safety and quality of life for wheelchair users who wish to engage in ground-based activity, or who may experience falls from their chair 
  • Potential to improve community participation by increasing use of advanced wheelchair skills by reducing fear associated with falls during these maneuvers

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