Categories Blog, Irish Stairlifts, ISB Mobility

A Guide to the History of the Wheelchair


If you were to take a survey in regards to the most popular mobility aid currently on the market, the results would likely come back in favour of the wheelchair. Whilst at first glance this is a product which is relatively simple, the truth of the matter is that the wheelchair has undergone countless changes over its lifespan. Unfortunately, many individuals are ignorant as to what the roots of this unit is. Here at ISB Mobility, we believe that it is important for the history of the wheelchair to be published – if you would like to expand your understanding on this subject, feel free to continue reading.

Ancient Chinese Origins

Although it can be argued that these were not, by the traditional definition, ‘wheelchairs’, there is evidence to suggest that chairs affixed with wheels were used in ancient times. These may have perhaps been basic wheelbarrows which served a dual-purpose; not only could they be used to transport manual tools, but also people. The depictions that have been found on vases and slates are commonly perceived as proof that the wheelchair has a far richer heritage than first thought.

European Popularisation

As incredible as it may seem, wheelchairs are not thought to have arrived in Europe until over one thousand years later, at some point in the twelfth century. Once again, these are intricately linked with the wheelbarrow. However, independent wheelchairs that did not need to be pushed by another individual were not invented until 1655 – the mechanical mastery exhibited by the Germans allowed for rolling chairs to be manufactured. These manual wheelchairs were not so much considered to be mobility aids, but rather as a smooth-and-seamless way for the affluent members of society to easily traverse the world.

Twentieth Century Innovations

When people look back at history, it is widely acknowledged that the twentieth century was a time of technical innovation across the board. Thanks to the invention of tubular steel, it was now possible to create a wheelchair that was portable, and subsequently incredibly easy to use. Following on from this, the development of intricate electrical components allowed for a range of wheelchairs to be manufactured that did not force the user to use their own strength. Electric power is considered by most to be a turning point for these units, and certainly catapulted them into mainstream usage.

Modern Day Design

The technology that is available to us now in the twenty-first century means that we are able to innovate in ways never before thought possible. For example, designs have become incredibly streamlined – portability is now expected, and wheelchair users are able to enjoy a level of comfort rarely experienced in the past. The brakes which are now fitted are efficient-and-effective, meaning that safety has been somewhat consolidated. With a plethora of models available, such as ultra-lightweight and electric wheelchairs, 2020 is a time where convenience is epitomized.

What Can ISB Mobility Do to Help?

Have you been browsing through numerous wheelchairs for sale, without finding the particular model which you believe suits your needs? Are you tired of scrolling through lightweight folding models and electrically powered wheelchairs, and need some guidance on the matter? If you answered positively to either of the previous questions, you will be relieved to hear that your search has come to an end – ISB Mobility is here to help. When it comes to supplying mobility aids that are in excellent condition, at prices which are competitive-yet-affordable, there is no one that surpasses us. This is not to mention our fantastic customer service; should you wish to speak to one of our representatives, simply follow the instructions laid out on our website’s contact page.