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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 June, 2003, 12:31 GMT 13:31 UK
Wheelchair 'walks' down stairs
Mark Griffiths and wheelchair
Mark hopes his design can help ambulance workers
A former washing machine factory worker has turned his tool-making skills to designing a revolutionary wheelchair.

Mark Griffiths, now a mature student at the University of Wales in Bangor has designed a wheelchair which can be "walked" downstairs.

The 34-year-old, from Conwy, has been exhibiting his revolutionary wheelchair at Bangor's School of Education.

Mr Griffiths spoke to staff at the local Ambulance Trust and learned that a large number of sickness absences are due to injuries caused while carrying wheelchairs downstairs.

Students were challenged to find a real-life design problem to resolve and these made up the final-year exhibition of students following the Design & Technology Secondary Education degree.

After researching and trying various ideas, Mr Griffiths came up with his current prototype having seen a digger mounting some stairs on a demolition site.

It's like a normal wheelchair but the back wheels can retract using a kicking device, just like an aeroplane's wheels
Mark Griffiths, designer

"I approached the Ambulance Trust because I thought maybe I could produce a design that would benefit them," he told News Online.

"I found out their biggest problem was getting people downstairs and that many ambulance workers became ill after carrying heavy patients.

"It's like a normal wheelchair but the back wheels can retract using a kicking device, just like an aeroplane's wheels.

"It also has tracks which are designed to cover three steps at the time so its nice and sturdy.

"I'll be meeting representatives from the Ambulance Trust next week to try to sort something out - I'm hoping the chair could go into production," he added.

Now he will put his new skills to work teaching Design and Technology at Rhyl High School from next September.

"The technical content of this course is reflected in the fact that our students are awarded a science degree at the end," said course director John Hughes.

"We place emphasis on their experience of design in industrial and commercial settings and on resolving real life design problems.

"Many of the designs produced have been patented or considered for commercial application."

The Design and Technology Secondary Education degree is a three-year course and qualifies students as secondary school Design and Technology teachers.


SEE ALSO:
Award for new wheelchair design
24 Sep 02  |  England
Super wheelchair tackles stairs
02 Jun 00  |  Health
Inventors fighting for their rights
08 May 03  |  Business
BBC seeks best inventor
18 Mar 03  |  Entertainment
A patently absurd invention?
25 Oct 02  |  UK News


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