BOSTON (CBS) — A wheelchair designed at MIT is being heralded as the “mountain bike of wheelchairs.”
It’s called the Freedom Chair and is the creation of a group of former MIT students, made right here in Massachusetts. And it opens up a whole new world for exploration.
“I was injured in a mountain biking accident in 2014 and I broke my T-5 and T-6 vertebrae so I’m paralyzed from about here, down,” says Lindsey Runkel, gesturing from her stomach and below.
The wheelchair has helped Lindsey do things she previously was unable to do.
“It allows me to get out on trails and out in my yard, and it allows me to go places I wouldn’t normally be able to go,” she says.
“The Freedom chair is the mountain bike of wheelchairs,” says Tish Scolnik, one of the inventors.
The chair started out eight years ago as a school project for four MIT students. The challenge was to help disabled people in developing countries move around in a world where pavement is rare. It then morphed into a reinvented wheelchair and a new company called GRIT.
“We’ve sold just about 100 here in the United States, and overseas in developing countries we’ve distributed close to 2,000,” Scolnik says.
“The secret behind the Freedom chair is our lever drive train,” she adds.
Rather than push the wheelchair using a rim around the wheel, levers propel this chair and act as a kind of gear shift depending on where you place your hands….