Offroading wheelchair invention

Offroading wheelchair invention

A single father who was left paralysed after a motocross accident has invented a clip-on attachment which allows wheelchairs to be used for offroading adventures.

Four years after coming up with his ingenious idea Patrick Dougherty, 52, is selling his FreeWheel attachment all over the world.

Mr Dougherty, who has a 17-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son, invented the FreeWheel after becoming frustrated when he found he could not play with his children on their lawn after his accident in 2003.

He said: “The accident was life-changing. Nobody knows how they would react until they are the one in that position.

“The hospital staff challenged me to do the best I could, and push through the difficulties with determination to reach independence.”

After his recovery, Mr Dougherty, of Boise in Idaho, USA, drew up plans for the FreeWheel, which finally went into production in 2010.

He said he was unprepared for how much interest there would be in his product.

He said: “I really didn’t think my idea would be sold around the world. But the feeling of grabbing your FreeWheel from the perch behind your chair, installing it yourself, and gliding over what was previously difficult or impossible terrain unleashes a feeling of independence and adventure that is like an addictive drug.”

Four years on and the invention has gone global, with UK distributor Gerald Simonds selling different adaptations from £375.

Emily Tomson, a spokeswoman for Gerald Simonds said: “People go in the woods now when normally they wouldn’t have even entertained that idea in a normal wheelchair.”

Several people are now using the wheel to push the barriers for paraplegics.

Ms Tomson said: “In our newsletter we have a story about a lady who has just done a trip to Antarctica using Freewheel.

“She was able to get right up close to the penguins and was able to go on the snow and ice which is absolutely incredible. She’s just one of the amazing testimonials we’ve received.”

More high resolution pictures are available on request. To discuss rates for using pictures and copy, contact news editor Tom Knight on 07815 004413 or tom@medavia.co.uk.

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