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PROVO — A team of students at Brigham Young University has designed a special attachment for wheelchairs to help people in Third World countries travel greater distances with less effort. The creation of the design was part of the student group's capstone project and was requested by the global wheelchair program within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' LDS Charities.
Ryan Larson, a mechanical engineering student and the team lead, said the charity organization asked students to solve some problems they were having with wheelchairs they'd distributed in humanitarian projects.
"LDS Charities asked the students to design and prototype a trike that is durable, maneuverable, multi-geared to handle varied terrain and built with parts that are easily replaceable," the university said in a press release.
Larson said having the steering, pedaling and braking all at hand level makes it possible for people to go several miles in their chair with much less effort.
"It has a system of four attachment arms. Those reach out and are attached via pins to clamps. Those go on the front of the wheelchair frame."
He said their final prototype will be picked up this week and sent to a factory where they hope to begin distributing the attachments by the end of the year.
"It's really rewarding being able to use the skill that you've gained to do something that directly helps people," Larson said.