Fun News Friday! BYU students make the world’s lightest, least expensive motorized wheelchair

Here’s an article and video about something that I hoped would be available soon since adapted equipment can get very expensive and it’s so challenging to get equipment approved and authorized.  If this becomes widely available then it will also allow children to start becoming mobile earlier and faster rather than waiting for a wheelchair to be approved.


Highlights from the Article:

Tanner and Skyler Jensen are like any young siblings. They play together, they fight over silly things and they are hard to keep up with.

But the Jensen boys are also unlike most young siblings. Both of them have a rare genetic condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy that affects their ability to crawl, walk, control their heads, lift their arms and even breathe.

Because of this degenerative disease, Tanner, 3, and Skyler, 20 months, use wheelchairs. However, since SMA affects most of their muscles, wheeling themselves around is extremely tiring. Motorized wheelchairs would seemingly help, but they’re prohibitively expensive, difficult to transport and dangerously heavy.


That’s where BYU’s Engineering Capstone program comes in. This past year, five undergraduate mechanical engineering students have designed, manufactured and constructed an inexpensive, lightweight motorized wheelchair specifically for children such as Tanner and Skyler.

The chair is made with a PVC frame (strong enough for a child up to 50 pounds or about 6 years old) and is controlled by an armrest-mounted joystick like other chairs. The students produced the chair for under $495, making it likely the world’s least expensive motorized wheelchair—and possibly lightest at just over 20 pounds.

“Working with the Jensen family made the whole project more meaningful,” said team member Ian Freeman. “We knew we had to deliver a working wheelchair for these boys. It gave us a lot of motivation from the very beginning.”


As part of the project, the team will also post plans for the wheelchair, along with the list of materials and components necessary to build it, online at so other parents can assemble chairs of their own.




Categories: News Articles

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1 reply


  1. BYU Students Make World’s Lightest, Least Expensive Motorized Wheelchair | PediaStaff Pediatric SLP, OT and PT Blog

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