A new robotic wheelchair could help disabled people regain a greater degree of independence, according to the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
The NIST-developed wheelchair is controlled by a joystick and can be built to feature supports for the arms and upper torso, or for the whole body.
The first version of the home lift, position and rehabilitation (HLPR) chair can help with stroke rehabilitation by supporting the patient's body weight and securing them to the frame while they safely re-learn walking and basic coordination skills.
The second version is for more seriously disabled patients, but offers the possibility of increased independence as the internal chair can rotate out over a bed, chair or toilet.
"The torso lifts lower the patient safely into the new position. The chair frame can even remain in position to continue supporting the patient from potential side, back or front fall," the institute revealed in a statement.
"In addition, the proof-of-concept prototype HLPR Chair would allow stroke victims and others to keep their legs active without supporting their entire body weight."
NIST developed the wheelchair so that its centre of gravity remains comfortably within its own wheelbase, with patients weighing up to 21 stone.
Image courtesy of National Institute of Standards and Technology