MIDDLETON, Wis. - A Middleton company hopes to change the wheelchair industry with its new technology.
Rowheels started in 2016 producing wheels to attach to other chairs. The wheels work by the user pulling backwards on the rim, allowing for better posture and more distribution of muscle use.
“That was a game changer in this business,” said Gaurav Mishra, the CEO of Rowheels. “For the first time this problem of upper limb injuries and upper extremity problems happening to the manual wheelchair (had) a solution.”
Mishra said 70 percent of manual wheelchair users get injured, primarily in the rotator cuff or hand. He said that’s because traditional chairs primarily rely on the muscles in the front shoulder and chest, leading to overuse and strain, and spokes on conventional wheelchairs often catch fingers.
Rowheels’ wheel forces users to eight different muscles across the arms, back and chest, reducing the risk of strain, Mishra said. The wheels are solid, not spoked, so fingers don’t get stuck.
Because of the success of the wheel, the company has decided to expand production to the entire chair. Mishra said that cuts out middle men, which reduces the cost for the consumer. He said previously the wheels themselves cost more than $2,000, but with centralized production, the company can sell the entire chair for just under $1,000. He also said people can order the chair online and through Amazon, getting it to their door in two days if they are an Amazon Prime member.
“Someone just has to open the box, unfold the chair and ready to roll,” he said.
Mishra said he’s heard only positive things from people who have tried the chair, and they extend beyond physical differences.
“Not only the physical and functional performance, it builds up the morale, the enthusiasm,” he said. “They're able to be more mobile. They're able to be more physically active.”
He said the company is accepting preorders now, but they won’t start shipping until late fall.