PI was tasked with developing a unique, stylish, and easy-to-customize power wheelchair and seating system from the ground up.
Avid Rehab, a division of Merits Health Products, focuses on manufacturing mobility products such as power wheelchairs and scooters that enable independence and accessibility, providing solutions that support these individuals and improve their quality of life. Avid had a vision for a new power wheelchair platform, called Axcel, that would compete with the best in class in style, range of motion, comfort, support, adjustability, and freedom of movement for the occupant. But just as important to the company was considering the other, often overlooked users of mobility systems – providers and caregivers.
Providers spend hours fitting and customizing every seat and accessory to the specific needs of their patients and make upgrades and repairs when needed. Caregivers interface with the product daily as they assist the occupant in their routines. While they may not be the primary users of a power wheelchair, improving their experience with the system will have a positive impact on their lives, and that of the occupant as well.
To meet this challenge, PI worked closely with the Avid team to examine every detail of the new system from the ground up, balancing the needs of all users.
As a medical device, patient comfort and safety are primary. Surfaces in direct contact with the occupant must provide support while allowing natural, dynamic movement. Two such critical components – the articulated foot platform (AFP) and seat back recline shear mechanism – needed fresh solutions for the Axcel to meet the highest industry standards. PI’s integrated design and engineering teams were able to quickly iterate mechanism concepts, fabricate 3D mockups, and test with users to evaluate designs against key human factors like comfort and range of motion.
For providers, the modularity of the system means that components are designed to work together but can be easily combined with those from other manufacturers. A unique ratcheting hinge mechanism was developed for critical adjustable components, such as the armrests and head support, making it easier for providers to set positions quickly and accurately while helping to reduce slippage during use. Pop-off cosmetic covers and easy-access hatches were integrated into the seat back and base to make accessing critical electrical components and batteries a snap.
Power wheelchairs provide freedom to move, freedom to participate, and freedom to live for millions of people that need mobility assistance. But usability is just as important for the many others who interact daily with the devices for customization and caregiving. The Avid Axcel system delivers on comfort, performance and design for all users, because everyone deserves good design.
The Merits PC ProForm Head Support with EZ-Clamp Bracket won the 2023 Mobility Product Award for Positioning. Mobility Management’s 2023 Mobility Product Awards honor outstanding product development in Complex Rehab Technology (CRT) and accessibility.