Purpose: For off-road mobility, some manual or power assisted devices were conceived to be self-driven by paraplegics while for tetraplegics non power-assisted devices were conceived. These devices require one or more conductors who are subjected to a high physical demand thus potentially creating: precarious safety condition for the user an elevated physical demand of conductors could reduce the care and the attention to give to the user; the time of the outdoor adventure experience of the user could be limited. Methods: To address these issues, an innovative user-centered power assisted off-road wheelchair for the transportation of tetraplegics along mountain trails was developed. The device, structured like a trike, is driven by two healthy conductors; the user is placed in the middle of the frame. A movable seat provides for the transfer from the standard to the off-road wheelchair. An electrical motor, powered by a battery pack, provides for the actuation. All the design and prototype aspects, the control system and experimental tests are detailed. Results: The prototype satisfies mechanical, safety and duration requirements. No physical demand while using the device and for the transfer of the user to the device was identified. Fun and engaging tests were carried out and all the participants were involved.Implications for RehabilitationThe device has the potential to enhance the quality of life of tetraplegics in terms of new life experiences.The device revealed the real possibility of a full recreational experience, an enhanced participation and a better social integration of tetraplegics.
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