Manual wheelchair users experience reach-based challenges on a daily basis. Users encounter unadapted environments in places like the grocery store, gas stations, work places and many other common areas that have not been retrofitted specifically for wheelchair users to operate easily. Wheelchair users have adapted to these environments by learning putting themselves in what are often unsafe situations, by balancing precariously on their wheelchairs to reach a little bit higher. In 2003, more than 100 000 wheelchair related injuries were treated in emergency departments in the US, double the number reported in 1991. Tips and falls accounted for 65–80% of injuries across all age groups of wheelchair users (Chany, A-M, G.A. Smith and H. Xiang. “Wheelchair related injuries,” 8). Therefore, Levaté aims to empower its users to more easily interact in such described environments, to safely restore their reach and sense of independence.
Levaté is an aftermarket manually operated wheelchair lift accessory that raises users 12 inches through the use of a telescoping pneumatic cylinder that is powered by the operation of the wheels. This lifting system is attached to ultralight wheelchairs to provide the user to increase their sitting height incrementally starting from his/her normal sitting position up to a maximum height of 12 inches and any height in-between. The lift system lifts the complete wheelchair including the wheels, seat, and frame relative to the floor and rests underneath the seat. It is attached to the wheelchair by using permanently mounted clasps that are attached to the frame where the user can attach and detach the device at will. Once the mounts are installed, the user attaches the device by pushing the device into the clasp mechanism, which holds Levaté in a resting position above the ground and below the user’s seat. Additionally, there are retractable legs that lower once the lifting system is engaged that rotate from their original resting position to make contact with the floor and provide stability for the device while it is in use.