Innovation As Recreation
A Complex Power Wheelchair Becomes a LEGO Idea
- By Laurie Watanabe
- Aug 08, 2023
Now featured on the LEGO Ideas Web site: a highly detailed power wheelchair — complete with posterior and anterior tilt, plus power standing — that could one day be available for purchase at a LEGO Store near you.
The LEGO model contains a working suspension at each of the four wheels.
The Permobil F5 Corpus VS power chair was built of LEGO bricks by Anton Danielsson, a Permobil Lead Engineer who most recently was on the design team for the M Corpus VS, Permobil’s new mid-wheel-drive standing power chair.
“I am constantly inspired by the individuals who use wheelchairs,” Danielsson said in his LEGO Ideas post. “Their determination and problem-solving capabilities to overcome different physical limitations to fulfill their dreams amaze me every day. … With this build, I wanted to celebrate inclusivity by building a fully functioning Permobil F5 Corpus VS power wheelchair. In so many ways, LEGO is the perfect match to make a high-functioning wheelchair re-creation because anyone and everyone can build with LEGO.”
The LEGO power chair is a little over 6" long, nearly 5" wide, nearly 7" tall, and uses more than 400 LEGO pieces.
The LEGO Ideas Web site gives consumers the chance to create LEGO products they would like to see commercially available. The next step in the process is amassing 10,000 “supporters” — members of the public who vote for the concept on the LEGO Ideas Web site. Project ideas that reach the 10,000-supporter mark are considered by LEGO for commercial production.
The Importance of Play & Representation
While Danielsson built the LEGO power chair as an independent project, Angie Kiger, M.Ed., CTRS, ATP/SMS, Senior Marketing Operations Manager, Permobil Americas, affirmed the significance of seeing seating and mobility in everyday life.
As shown on the LEGO Ideas site, the chair has a standing function.
“Odds are high if you show an adult, teenager, or elementary-age child a LEGO brick, they will know exactly what it is,” Kiger said. “For many people, seeing a LEGO will likely spark positive memories from childhood. Iconic toys have a way of doing that, because play and toys are typically associated with joy and fun.
“While LEGO introduced their first manual wheelchair built from bricks in 1975, the first molded form wheelchair did not become available until 1998, and it was specifically part of a medical scene set. Ironically, Mattel’s first Barbie doll in a wheelchair was released just before the LEGO molded form wheelchair in 1997.”
Such events are especially significant to Kiger, a Recreation Therapist.
“Representation in all areas of life is key and vital during developmental play activities with young children,” she noted. “For children and adults with disabilities, it allows them to play alongside their peers, or with their own children in the case of an adult, with a character/doll that looks and experiences life in the make-believe world similar to how they do. It also helps with decreasing the stigma around mobility devices and other assistive technology equipment when children without disabilities have the opportunity to play with toys that include them in their imaginative play activities.”
As for the LEGO Ideas campaign, Kiger added, “It’s been over 25 years since the molded form manual wheelchair was added to LEGO’s vast options of pieces, which means it is way overdue that they bring a power wheelchair option to the table.”
This story originally appeared in Mobility Management’s eBook digital edition. To subscribe, visit the newsletter subscription page. Subscribing to the eMobility newsletter also subscribes you to future eBook digital editions.
Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at [email protected].