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PTA Blog Talk

Interchangeable Parts

Published September 26, 2012 7:43 PM by Jason Marketti

Trying to find wheelchair leg rests in a facility can be tiresome and time-consuming for us. One facility I worked at had a spare bathroom filled with excess wheelchair and assistive-device parts and equipment. After locating all the needed parts and positioning the patient in a chair, the parts and chair would disappear the next day. And the most frustrating thing was no one knew where the chair and parts were. When one leg was bent on a FWW, I tried several other legs from the spare parts closet but they would not adequately fit for the walker to be stable.

Interchangeable parts is not new. The idea was born in China around the 11th century. In 1801, Eli Whitney demonstrated success with putting guns together in front of Congress using parts that could be used interchangeably. With the advent of precision design using computers, why can't we have the same success Eli Whitney did when finding parts for a wheelchair or assistive devices?

Why do some wheelchair manufacturers make leg rests harder to adjust, which require tools a PT department doesn't have? It would be really nice to be able to take a single-point cane and put a walker leg on it. I have come across so many canes that are missing the adjustable end and so many FWW legs stored in a closet. Often the walker legs are used as brake extenders on the wheelchairs, which coincidently I wish would actually fit the brake handle. Is it really that difficult to design a wheelchair and assistive devices that could be used together? Maybe I should show the manufacturers some of the sketches I have so we could revolutionize the market.

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About this Blog


    Jason J. Marketti
    Occupation: Physical Therapist Assistant
    Setting: San Jacinto, CA
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