Third World Wheel Chair Innovation (Video)


Good day and welcome to Health Tech Weekly, the show on technology that helps create a healthier you! I’m your host Jamie Davis, the Podmedic. Before we get into this week’s health tech item, make sure you check here at for links to everything covered in this episode, contact information, and more.

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This week in Health Tech I wanted to feature a story that underlines the purpose of this program as well as what is, I believe, the underlying purpose of the health technology industry: To improve the health and lives of individuals in fundamental ways.

Leveraged Freedom Chair Changes Third World

Leveraged-wheelchairThis week we feature the Leveraged Freedom Chair, a project from a member of MIT’s health engineering team to bring a cost-effective solution to a need for multi-terrain wheelchair design. In many parts of the world, individuals who need wheelchairs are unable to use the standard designs to navigate the terrain encountered in their daily lives.  Amos Winter from MIT sought to solve this problem through simple technology and engineering design. The design uses a variable length lever design to vary torque and range of movement based on the amount of work needed to traverse various types of terrain.

What he developed was an all-terrain wheelchair that is powered by levers mounted on a bicycle style assembly that allows easier and faster transport over all types of terrain commonly encountered in the third world. The cost was kept under $200 although there is a high end prototype being developed here in the U.S. for the developed world health marketplace. The design went through several iterations as it was tested with end users in Africa, India and Central America. The wheelchair is lightweight, sized to fit indoors or out, and is repairable using local resources and technologies. Everywhere has a bike repair shop and the materials, sprockets and chains are produced everywhere in the world.

Low Tech Design Makes Big Improvement

While you might think of this as a low tech device to be featured on a health technology program like this, it exemplifies what health technology should do. Whether low tech or high tech, a device must meet a fundamental need and improve health care in ways that can be easily used by the average patient.  I won’t always be focusing on third world solutions like the Leveraged Freedom Chair but I think it’s a great example of how fundamentally simple health improving technology can be. That is what Health Tech Weekly will be all about.

That will wrap up this episode of Health Tech Weekly. Make sure you follow up over at out website,, for more information on this and all of our episodes. There are additional resource links, links to trusted resources for living a healthier lifestyle and more. If you have a comment on this week’s episode please get back in touch with me either over at in comment links for each article or shoot me an email at

I’m your host Jamie Davis, the Podmedic. I’ll be back soon with more health technology for you. In the meantime, remember that improving health takes small, simple steps that over time all add up to a healthier you. Why don’t you take a healthier step today?

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