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In 2015, CBS News reported the story of paralyzed veteran John Christianson, recipient of a newly designed standing wheelchair.
As the story opens, Christianson wheelchairs over to a bookshelf, and uses the wheelchair to move from a seated position to a standing position in front of the book he wants. "For the first time in 20 years, I don't have to ask anyone for help," Christianson tells the CBS reporter. "It's nice not to have to ask anyone for help."
Christianson was one of the very first people to test a new standing wheelchair designed by Dr Gary Goldish, of the Minneapolis Veterans Administration hospital. Golden took an existing standing wheelchair, and with input from engineers, came up with design changes: "We modified the existing standing wheelchair by taking a drive wheel chair and separating the push rim from the tire."
Goldish's objective was to make using the wheelchair while standing as similar to using the wheelchair while sitting as possible. The chair's four wheels and four casters are on the ground at all times, keeping the chair stable. The push rim, however, can rise with the user as the seat is raised to become a back rest.
The ability to use a wheelchair while standing reduces the risk of pressure sores. It also enables the user to reach shelves and to do far more tasks of daily living more independently. Christianson can even shoot hoops after years of not being able to play basketball. Paralyzed Veterans of America provided the funding for the refinements made to this prototype, although they expect to make refinements in the basic design for several years before the chair is ready to go to market. Unlike many other standing wheelchairs, this chair is not electric, and does not depend on batteries for its operation.