I haven’t seen this in person yet, so I’m throwing it out for the ‘may be worth investigating’ file. The Wijit is a set of geared handles attached to manual wheelchair wheels. The idea is to allow cleaner (literally) and more ergonomic propulsion of the chair — no more grabbing for wheel rims with the attendant stress on the back and shoulders.
There’s an explanation on the website, along with a bunch of other information. Ignore the menu on the left to get started — the links above the page (in the header) actually explain the product.
The concept seems sound and practical, and isn’t all that complicated. However, the “Medical Aspects” page, which purports to list various papers and research findings, is notably weak, with links to various papers. It’s not clear that these papers actually address the use of the Wijit. One link leads only to a listing for a paper at a conference, not to the paper itself. Several links discuss the need for designs for improvements in manual wheelchair propulsion (or for customization), but again, do not mention the Wijit.
The point of another article is that exploring alternative methods for propelling manual wheelchairs is desirable (no kidding?) but the article offers no actual data about the Wijit-in-use. There’s a monograph about “The Mobility Instinct” which states, essentially, that humans like to move and do it instinctively. It’s hard to see how this particular article contributes either to scientific literature, or how it advances the cause of the Wijit. The whole Medical Aspects section looks like a dubioius bit of puffery.
That being said, the product itself is a very, very cool idea, if it does the trick — and if it’s affordable. Common sense certainly dictates that it would be terrific to move a manual wheelchair without having to reach backwards or hold onto grubby wheels to do it — and that gearing could make moving smoother and easier. Common sense also suggests that there’s probably a practical way to implement the rather straight-forward concept.
The site claims the Wijit “can be billed” through Medicare ‘s miscellaneous code K0108 for evaluation on a “case by case” basis. (But do note the careful wording — you could probably bill Medicare for anything. Getting reimbursed would be the issue.)
More Information: Levers to Drive a Manual Wheelchair — Update