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History of the Wheelchair

The Freedom Mobility

Difference

I can't thank Kelly and her staff enough for how helpful and caring they have been during my mother's recovery. It is obvious that they have the client's best interests in mind. I highly recommend this company!
- Jill Layton Alperstein
Customer

Humans have been dealing with disabilities for as long as they have walked the Earth. Many different inventions have been concocted over the years to help those with disabilities get around. One of the most important mobility inventions ever made is the wheelchair. At Freedom Mobility Solutions, we have rented out and sold many wheelchairs over the years, and wanted to talk about the history of wheelchairs today.

The First Ever Wheelchair

There have been some archaeological discoveries that suggest wheelchair-like furniture was being used as early as the sixth century AD. The first well documented example of a wheelchair device was made by King Philip of Spain, who lived from 1527 to 1598. During his later years, Philip had difficulty getting around, as he suffered severely from gout, which made walking difficult and painful. The chair he invented was quite lavish with plush upholstery, arm and leg rests, and four tiny wheels attached to the bottom. Philip needed to be pushed around by a servant.

The First Self-Propelled Wheelchair

King Philip of Spain may have made the first wheelchair that we know about, but the first self-propelled wheelchair ever was invented in 1655 by a paraplegic clockmaker in Nuremberg, Germany, a man by the name of Stephan Farfler. After breaking his back as a child, Farfler would develop his mobility aid equipment at the age of twenty-two. He used his expertise as a clockmaker, and was able to make a wheelchair that worked by turning cranks, which turned gears, which turned the wheels.

Bath Chairs Were Insanely Popular

Throughout the latter portion of the eighteenth century, the city of Bath in Britain was a very popular spa town destination for the sick and disabled across Europe. To help all of these sick and disabled people get around the city of Bath, John Dawson invented the Bath Chair in 1783. The Bath Chair still required someone to push it for power, but the Bath Chair did include a rod connected to the front wheel that allowed the user to steer which direction they want to go in.

The X-Frame Folding Wheelchair Was a Game Changer

It may not have been the very first folding wheelchair ever invented, but it was certainly one of the most popular and most early adopted folding wheelchairs. The X-Frame folding wheelchair was developed in the 1930s by American inventors Harry Jennings and Herbert Everest, after Everest became paraplegic following a mining incident. Their lightweight and easily transportable chair design is still the one that most of us are familiar with today, though there have been numerous improvements made to their initial design.

Learn All About Wheelchairs and Other Pieces of Mobility Equipment from an Experienced Mobility Equipment Company in Maryland

Interested in learning more about the history of the wheelchair? Want to learn about all of the most recent innovations in mobility technology? At Freedom Mobility, we’ve been helping Marylanders get around for a long time. Whether you’re interested in a wheelchair, a cane, a power chair, or any other piece of mobility equipment, we’re here to help. We employ a team of mobility experts, each member of which has ample experience offering their mobility expertise.