Wheelchair Baby Carrier – improving independence for new parents
There are many things which wheelchair users cannot do as easily as able-bodied people and which require a bit of mental or physical gymnastics in order to achieve. Most of these things would not even be a second thought to able-bodied people. One thing they cannot do without some form of assistance is push their child in a pram or a pushchair whilst propelling themselves in their wheelchair.
Designability, a charity design and create life-changing assistive technologies, have re-invented and created their first functional prototype Wheelchair Baby Carrier which was handed over to a new mum in February earlier this year.
They initially provided a Wheelchair Baby Carrier back in 2006 which enabled parents who are wheelchair users to go out with their child independently. But this product was a static attachment, only allowing for an upright, forward facing seated position which had limited use.
Designability has been working in collaboration with parents who are wheelchair users over the last 10 years to redesign the product. They have discussed what works and what doesn’t and found out what parents want and need for this innovational product.
Once they found a recipient they then worked closely with her in the final stages of design and development of the prototype to get her views and input into the design, needs and practical use of the product.
The Wheelchair Baby Carrier
Designability has completely re-invented this product. The new baby carrier looks and has similar functions to a pram. The baby is cradled in a carrier section from a Quinny pushchair which has adjustable mounts for both forward and rear facing and is also able to adjust their seating position from an upright position to a reclining position very easily. This new baby carrier is not only more adjustable but can be removed at two clicks, so the baby can stay in their cradle just like a pram or pushchair.
The cradle for the baby is attached to the FreeWheel Wheelchair Attachment. This attachment is easily fitted to a ridged or folding manual wheelchair. The FreeWheel lifts the front wheels (casters) of your wheelchair off the ground and replaces it with a third wheel in front of the chair.
This attachment is used to assist with mobility of a wheelchair over difficult terrain; grass, gravel, snow or sand for example. Designability has modified this attachment to turn it into a baby carrier to be used with a child up to age 24 months.
Where next for the Wheelchair Baby Carrier?
The first fully functional Wheelchair Baby Carrier is currently in use, and is going well so far. At the handover the mum really liked the positioning of the cradle and child and the ease of how it is used.
Designability are now looking for funding and wheelchair users who can further trial the new product.
Ideally in the future Designability would like to operate a loan scheme in respect of the baby carriers. They would produce a fleet of 10 wheelchair baby carriers to loan to people for 24 months or until the baby outgrows the baby carrier. The baby carrier would then be returned to Designability and completely refurbished before being provided to another parent & child who is in need.
You can be referred to Designability via a number of ways; by your Occupational Therapist, physiotherapist, family members, friends or directly yourself.
Getting involved with Designability
I think this is an incredible new product which could drastically improve the independence and lives of wheelchair users who have become new parents. It is hard enough to get out and about with a baby, without the physical restrictions a wheelchair user faces.
If you would like to get involved in fundraising for the project or perhaps know someone who could benefit from a wheelchair baby carrier, do not hesitate to contact Designability, they may well be able to help.