Wheeling backwards to go forwards?

News story iconThat probably sounds like a riddle but we’re talking about a new type of “rowable” ergonomic wheelchair wheels that propel you forwards by pulling backwards on the handrims.

According to the story on New Atlas, this is apparently a more efficient “rowing” type motion that takes advantage of stronger upper back & shoulder muscle groups and needs less force to propel the chair.

Woman using a Rowheels wheelchair

(Woman using Rowheels equipped wheelchair. Image Credit: Rowheels)

We’ll let New Atlas explain further:

First of all, you may ask, what’s the point?

Well, switching to the rowing motion reportedly recruits larger, more capable muscles in the user’s upper back and shoulders. This reduces the risk of shoulder injury, and also offers a mechanical advantage – according to the Rowheels company, approximately 25 percent less force is required to propel the chair.

The wheels are available in a variety of sizes, and are installed on existing third-party chairs. Their unique propulsion system is made possible via a planetary gear system at the center of each wheel, which reverses the pulling motion of the user into forward motion of the wheelchair. Braking is accomplished simply by pressing in on the handrims.

The company, Rowheels, is based in the US, and have multiple models (with easer/harder gearings) and a pile of demonstration videos on their website.

There are a couple of variations to “rowable” wheelchairs – check out the freedom chair and the rochair.