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The Lost History Of The Wheelchair

Aug 17, 2007
To properly study the history of our modern wheelchair, we'll have to go as back as ancient time, times when first men walked the grounds and to evaluate their first practical inventions.

So, scrolling back in human kind history, we come across an important event, around the year 4000 Before Christ, when two useful objects were supposing invented. One of these two is the chair, a place to sit on that was transportable, used to sit and eat, talk, socialize and to improve the early human houses.

The second important one would obviously be the wheel, a revolutionary discovery for mankind that allowed them to freely transport hunted animals or their assets and later even themselves. Archeological discoveries place both in the basin of the old Mediterranean Sea.

Later on, we are informed by history analyzers that an ancient Greek vase dated as back as 535 BC shows an image of a wheeled bed, a bed for children to be exact. Around the same period in china, an even breathtaking invention is revealed by some engravings: a chariot, used to transport important people that was, just as drawings show, a chair on wheels carried by an inferior ranged person.

The Chinese culture and religion seems to facilitate the process of evolution of wheelchairs, as we find out that in the year 200 they were forced to carry their immobilized to a place called Fountain of Youth. In order to do that, Chinese invented the wheelbarrow, a mobile bed carried by relatives or servants.

Further on in the history of wheelchairs we find Greek and roman testimonies about getting sick people out for walks in such devices.

Even Philip the King Of Spain in the time, had such a wheelchair that was being pushed by its servants making him able this way to do his chores and take his daily walks through the impressive palace gardens. Still, we have to wait until the 17th century to see a wheelchair that slightly resembles the modern ones.

It's the first self controllable wheelchair ever built, designed and invited by a young man named Stephen Farfler. This is the point in history that started to divide antique wheelchairs into many categories, by design or functionality.

History of wheelchairs - the models

The bath chair originated in England had three wells, two big in back, one small in front

The seating wheelchair, from the 18th century, came to adjust comfort for the disabled. It looked like a luxury home chair, but with reclinable abilities, two big wheels on its sides and a small support wheel at its back

The lightweight wheelchair, developed in India from reeds

Herbert A. Everest developed in 1933, in Los Angeles, a metallic wheelchair that could be compared to an auto vehicle, powered by own motor, and with 4 wheels

Another important step was taken By Samuel Duke in 1934 that invented the folding wheelchair, used for transportation into other vehicles

From here on, the history of wheelchairs leads us to the modern wheelchair we all know, a sports object actually that has everything from comfort, fold abilities and speed, to great suspensions and looks.
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