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Morgan's Wonderland unveils world-first waterproof pneumatic wheelchair

By Tom Anstey    10 Apr 2017
The 'PneuChair' can be operated using a joystick and is completely waterproof / Morgan's Wonderland

Morgan’s Wonderland – the San Antonio-based theme park which caters specifically to the disabled – has unveiled a revolutionary new technology for its guests in the form of a submersible wheelchair powered only by air.

Using no batteries or electrical components and only weighing a third of the weight of a normal wheelchair, the “PneuChair” can be operated using a joystick and is completely waterproof. The chair also takes just 10 minutes to recharge, compared to the eight hours of its electronic counterpart.

10 prototype models – developed by a team of researchers headed by Rory Cooper, director of Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL) at the University of Pittsburgh – will be used at the park to allow severely-disabled children to enjoy all of its facilities.

“Their needs and our research were essentially an ideal match,” said Cooper. “The potential to open opportunities for people with disabilities who need powered mobility to access splash parks, water parks, beaches or pools is transformative.”

In 2015 the park broke ground on a multi-million dollar expansion to include the world’s first ultra-accessible waterpark. In the pipeline since 2013 and expected to open in June, the US$16m (€15.1m, £12.9m) attraction, called Morgan’s Inspiration Island, will be based around six themed areas. As with Morgan’s Wonderland, every element of the waterpark will be wheelchair accessible, while special wristbands will be able to tell parents the whereabouts of children within the park.

HERL is planning to mass produce the patent-pending chair, working with Sports Outdoor and Recreation (SOAR) – a non-profit organisation created to oversee Morgan’s Wonderland – to establish a long-term licensing agreement wherein the PneuChair could be used in a variety of markets – personal care homes, shopping venues, supermarkets and airports.

Morgan's Wonderland  theme park  waterpark  waterproof wheelchair  wheelchair  disabled  PneuChair  Inspiration Island  visitor attraction 
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