PROJECT: NUDRIVE WHEELCHAIR LEVER
Assisting wheelchair users
NuDrive, from the UK company Pure Global Ltd., is an innovative new leverdrive propulsion accessory for manual wheelchairs, aimed at reducing the force needed to self-propel a wheelchair by up to 40%. Instead of gripping the wheels by hand, wheelchair users simply push levers to go forwards, backwards, manoeuvre or brake.
The device attaches in seconds to almost any wheelchair with 24-inch spoke wheels and dramatically improves the ability to travel up slopes or along difficult terrain by substantially increasing the torque available.
Winner of the UK’s prestigious Independent Living Design Awards, NuDrive is the world’s first retrofittable lightweight and compact lever-drive accessory for manual wheelchairs that is available to the public
“As time passes, we see advances made as small progressions with very few leaps forward. This design represents one of those leaps"
PETER GAGE, CHAIRMAN - NHS NATIONAL
WHEELCHAIR MANAGERS FORUM
Now CEO of Pure Global, Robert Orford was inspired at the age of 18 to help improve the lives of people with disabilities while volunteering at a disability charity for young people.
He went on to develop a basic wheelchair propulsion concept for his A-level design project winning the Audi Young Designer of the Year Award in 2002. He also received a grant from Audi to develop his idea into a commercial solution.
Pure Global was established in 2003 and went on to form partnerships with nationally acclaimed product developers London Associates and the Aspire Centre for Disability Sciences at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital with the aim of bringing to fruition Robert’s early vision of
giving wheelchair users even greater freedom and independence.
When it was launched on October 7 2008, NuDrive was hailed as a groundbreaking new product. Chairman of the NHS Wheelchair Managers Forum, Peter Gage, said: “As time passes, we see advances made as small progressions with very few leaps forward. This design represents one of those leaps.”
NuDrive can be used by continuous or occasional wheelchair users. These might be people likely to benefit from the system’s ability to deliver extra ‘torque’ – particularly useful on slopes or rough terrain; people who want to self-propel but have restricted grip capability; or people who have a carer but still want to contribute to propelling their chair.
A user's story
One such person is Mandy Ireland from Peterborough who has been using NuDrive since the beginning of September 2008 and says it has made a huge difference to her life.
“I’ve been confined to a wheelchair for the past 12 years and have both a manual and an electric chair,” says Mandy. “The electric one is great for where I need to go any distance but it simply isn’t as portable or convenient as the manual one – and I do like the fact that a manual chair keeps you much more active.
“Unfortunately I have now developed asthma so the manual chair affects my breathing if I have to go any distance. I’m also having problems with my fingers, wrists and elbows as a result of propelling myself.
“The NuDrive is absolutely brilliant for me because it gives me the best of both worlds. I can propel myself much more easily with the levers and even get up hills, across gravel and grass which I couldn’t have done before in the manual chair.
“It is also extremely easy to use and the attachment is simplicity itself to take on and off. I was also amazed at the price – for £350 it is tremendous value. I can get out and about to places by myself that I couldn’t have done before.”
And it’s making that kind of difference to people that in turn drives Robert. Still just 25, he is determined to continue producing innovative technology that aids and improves lives. “My dream is that this will be the first of many groundbreaking products able to change the lives of wheelchair users around the world,” said Robert.